Temper tantrums are a part of life for most parents who have toddlers. The degree and frequency with which they are had may vary. But, regardless of how even-tempered and well-mannered toddlers may be, angry outbursts will strike from time to time. This is because tantrums are toddlers hows are expressing frustration with their abilities or not being able to get their way, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But tantrums do not need to be cast in a negative light. Instead, if parents change their viewpoint on why they happen, there are ways to make tantrums a positive experience.
Toddlers who are met with understanding and compassion when they have tantrums are more likely to calm down sooner, per the publication. While this may be difficult to do in the moment when parents’ emotions may be running high as well, it will pay off with dividends.
The more often parents can keep their emotions in check during tantrums, the easier they will be to diffuse. And they become learning experiences rather than something that puts an emotional wedge between parents and toddlers.
Here are ways to make tantrums a positive experience.
Help Toddlers Express Their Feelings
Because toddlers express their joy and happiness with more frequency than emotions like frustration and anger, they may be unsure what it is when the large emotions bubble to the surface. When this happens, parents can help toddlers to express their feelings to make tantrums a positive experience versus a negative one.
According to VeryWell Familyways that parents can help their toddlers express their feelings include:
- Create a thermometer for toddlers to point to their level of anger or frustration
- Take time after the tantrum to talk about what caused the tantrum and how that made toddlers feel
- Show toddlers how to take deep breaths when they feel tantrums coming on to help collect their thoughts before breaking down
- Read books about emotions
- Name the emotions experienced
It may take time for toddlers to grasp what it is that they are feeling and self-regulate their emotions. But when feelings can be expressed and toddlers feel understood, fewer tantrums will occur.
Reassure Toddlers They Are Entitled To Their Feelings
Toddlers may be scared or confused by what they are feeling before a tantrum rears its ugly head or even while in the midst of one. This is why giving them reassurance that they are entitled to their feelings may help the experience of tantrums be more positive than negative.
According to Lane Kidsthe ways to reassure toddlers that they are entitled to what they are feeling during a tantrum include:
- Be accepting of emotional outbursts
- Teach toddlers acceptable ways of expressing their emotions
- Encourage toddlers to talk about their feelings before they get to the stage of tantrums
Toddlers need to know that any emotion they feel is valid. It is a matter of expressing those emotions in a way that is positive that they may need a bit of assistance with. And if this is done consistently, they will begin to transition away from tantrums and use their words more frequently instead.
Help Toddlers Show How They Are Feeling
When just learning about and experiencing new emotions, toddlers may not have the vocabulary to tell parents how they are feeling. But, if they are given ways to show how they are feeling, those emotions can be discussed either just before or after a tantrum occurs.
According to the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultationways to help toddlers show how they are feeling include:
- A chart with faces on it that range from happy to sad
- Use puppets or stuffed animals to visually show how toddlers are feeling
- Have toddlers use crayons to color how emotions made them feel
- Help toddlers draw faces that express how they are feeling
By helping toddlers visually express how they feel, they will learn how to verbally express those feelings as well. Something that can make a tantrum a positive learning experience versus something negative overall.
Do Not Back Down
While in the midst of making tantrums a positive experience, it is important for parents to remember not to back down in order to help bring a tantrum to an end.
Because parents do not want to deal with tantrums, they will change directions midstream when it comes to what they told their toddlers to do. As such, if parents told toddlers they could not have a cookie or could not watch a show and that is what set the tantrum off, it will not help parents or toddlers by suddenly allowing these things to happen.
Instead of making tantrums a positive experience, it makes them negative. This is because toddlers learn that if they throw a tantrum they will get their way. Something that will only lead to more frequent and longer lasting tantrums. Something that is the opposite of what parents are trying to achieve.
Remain Calm During The Tantrum
When toddlers are having temper tantrums, a great way to keep the tantrum experience a positive one is for parents to remain calm. Something that may be easier said than done in some situations.
According to the Child Mind Instituteways that parents can remain calm during a tantrum include:
- Assessing what is causing the tantrum to occur
- Discovering if there are triggers to tantrums starting
- Ignore the negative behavior but not the toddler
- Reinforce the positive behavior
- Remembering that staying calm will help toddlers calm down as well
If parents remain calm during a tantrum, they will be better able to reason with toddlers after tantrums occur.
By talking through what was experienced calmly, toddlers better understand why tantrums are not appropriate and better ways they can handle their emotions. And when this happens, tantrums became a positive experience for parents and toddlers alike.
Source: Mayo Clinic, VeryWell Family, Lane Kids, Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, Child Mind Institute