How to Handle Temper Tantrums

Your two-year old used to be a sweet little one, but now he or she has these little habits that really want to make you tear your hair out. They don’t call it the terrible twos for nothing. Why are temper tantrums common among toddlers? Firstly, two year olds begin to see the world a little differently, and start to recognize feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and the like. These emotions are new to them, and temper tantrums are actually a form of coping for them. Secondly, the toddler years are when children recognize their independence. They begin to want to make choices and assert them. They don’t always get what they want since parents decide for them hence the tantrums are a manifestation of their opposition. Tots usually grow out of their tantrum years in a few months, but parents need to be very careful when dealing with them. Here are some tips:

  1. Ignore. When you child starts to throw a tantrum, do not show any sign of anger, panic or worry, because if you do, you are only encouraging behaviors and allowing your child to manipulate you.
  2. Time-out. Just because your child is throwing a big one doesn’t mean you should be the one to bend. You are the parent, and therefore the authority. When your child throws a tantrum, for instance in public, or becomes violent towards other children, give him or her a time-out. He or she should face the wall for some time until he or she has calmed down.
  3. Give simple instructions. Tantrums may occur because a child is confused. If you are telling your child what to do, use simple words. Do not pile instructions one on top of the other because it only frustrates the tot even more.
  4. “It’s not you, it’s what you did”. Always tell your child that you’re not angry at him or her, but angry at what he or she did. This is help foster a better relationship between you two, and will prevent feelings of rejection or shame.
  5. Positive reinforcement. When your child is angry and makes an effort to not throw a fit, recognize and reward this good behavior. You will be surprised how quickly he or she forgets about throwing tantrums. 
  6. Finally, set a good example. Do not slam doors when you are angry, or shout. If you need to discuss something with a grown-up, do so without having to raise your voice, or worse, use profanities.