Last week we got an email from one of our readers, asking for a post on the topic of toddler tantrums. Her two-year-old is just starting to have some bouts and tantrums and she said she’s desperate for advice from fellow mums.
I think this is a bit of a tricky topic, because it is so dependent on one’s personal parenting style and, ahum, patience. For me, the most important advice regarding tantrums, is that it is crucial not to indulge the child’s demands… (not easy!) — because if you do, throwing a tantrum will become a means of getting his way!
I also believe that often, if not always, a tantrum is just some kind of act of desperation. When Casper has a tantrum, which does happen every now and then, I often feel he is just hungry, tired, or hurt. He has difficulties recognising these feelings of unease, and even if he could, he would have difficulties expressing himself because he is still so little. He still needs help to communicate his feelings.
So he doesn’t feel well — and doesn’t know/recognise it — so he gets really, really angry because I don’t let him watch Miffy on the tv ; ). But in reality, he might just need a banana! Truth is, I get cranky too when I forget to eat, or when I don’t sleep well, and I am not the nicest person to have around. And even for me, it is sometimes difficult to recognise that I’m in such a bad mood because I’m simply hungry! (My husband knows me better than I do, and gives me something to eat! Haha!)
So here’s what I do when Casper is having a fit. First, I ask if he’s hungry/tired/hurt. (Do you want a banana? Some water? Does your tummy hurt? Are you very tired? Do you need a hug?) If that doesn’t help, and he keeps on going, and a distraction doesn’t work, and he won’t stop after I’ve asked him a few times, I will actually put him in the hallway. Sometimes I feel you just have to be strict, break through the tantrum. Do something sudden. Raise your voice. Show them you don’t approve of this behaviour. In my case this always helps, but I can be a little strict sometimes… This really depends on your personal parenting style!
So my personal strategy is: first, ask if there is a problem. If there is, give food/ put to bed / give hugs etc. If that doesn’t help, ask him to stop. Then, the hallway (or in any case, I show that I’m displeased about this behaviour). I also like to remember that this is just a phase, and once the child will grow to be able to express feelings better, things will get easier.
Now please share — what are your thought on tantrums, and techniques to deal with them? I would love to hear!
PS Photo taken last year, when Courtney visited us in Amsterdam and Casper threw tantrums all the time!