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Family Matters: Tantrums


TantrumsI was in a store this morning watching a toddler have an epic meltdown. I think it was probably spawned over Dad’s refusal to buy princess fruit snacks, which were laying on the floor of the aisle not far from where the toddler was screaming as if she were being burned by acid rain.

Dad began yelling almost as loud as the toddler. You might think that would have startled her into quiet, but it only served to create a huge racket – and a big scene.

Children this age are exerting their will, testing limits and seeing how far they can push the authority figures in their life. Stooping to their level isn’t always the best solution. After all, you can control your temper; your 2-year-old is still learning.

At this age, children don’t always have the language skills to convey their thoughts and feelings, so hurt, anger, confusion, discomfort, sadness, exhaustion or many other feelings may manifest in screams, tears, throwing things, hitting things and general misbehavior.

First rule of tantrums: Don’t give in. If you buy the princess fruit snacks because she started screaming, she will learn to scream next time she wants something, but you’ve told her “no.”

Secondly, yelling back doesn’t do much good, although it may feel right at the time. Talking calmly or walking away (if the child is in a safe place) might be more effective.

Verbalizing their feelings for them is a good way to start quelling the tantrum. Say, “Oh Aria, are you angry right now?” or “I know you’re tired, but this is not how we behave when we’re sleepy.”

Remove them from the situation. Not always a good solution because who wants to leave a cart full of groceries abandoned in the aisle? However, walking them into a restroom or around a corner might distract them enough to calm down.

Point out when other children are throwing a tantrum. Ask your child what they think about the situation.

Finally, remember: they will outgrow this phase!


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