If you’re a parent, you probably can see it coming a mile away. As soon as you put your foot down, your child’s voice turns into a shriek, their face turns purple, and they start flailing their arms around. Your child has just flown into a temper tantrum, and it will be difficult for you to be able to get them back to their normal, level-headed self again.
While some children resort to temper tantrums only occasionally, many parents find themselves with children who have tantrums on a daily basis. If your child is particularly moody, there are steps that you can take to increase their emotional stability.
1) Maintain A Consistent Schedule
Tantrums happen typically during a transition from one activity to another, such as the beginning of the bedtime routine. This can inflame toddlers’ emotions because they simply hate being torn away from what they were doing earlier, and they feel frustrated because they have to change gears. If, however, the transition happens as part of a schedule to which they have become accustomed, it feels a lot less traumatic. A consistent schedule that your toddler can count on will make each day run a lot smoother.
2) Keep Them Well-Rested
Toddlers need a lot of sleep, as in 12 hours or more every night. They can also benefit from taking a nap in the middle of the day. Frequently a toddler who is set off at the slightest provocation is simply sleep deprived. Make sure that they are getting an adequate amount of shut-eye every night.
3) Learn Your Child’s Triggers
Most children who chronically launch into tantrums have a few particular things that make them overreact. You should learn what these things are and help mitigate the problem. For example, if they have a tendency to cry and scream while at the grocery store, then you should plan ahead by bringing a snack or toy to distract them. If your child tends to have a tantrum every time they play with their siblings, try to structure play time to that it’s less emotionally trying.
4) Praise Good Behavior
Praising good behavior is a good idea for a child of any age, but it can be particularly helpful in soothing emotional toddlers. Since toddlers think the world revolves around them, feeling like their mom or dad isn’t paying enough attention to them can raise their frustration or anger levels.
When you make sure to celebrate instances where they actually do what you ask them to, they will feel like they are getting the attention they deserve. And that will give them a greater sense of security which will help decrease the mood swings that cause tantrums.
5) Distract Them
Never underestimate the short attention span of a toddler. When your toddler begins to lose their cool, ask if they want to do a different activity. Or you could simply try handing them a toy or a snack. While this doesn’t work all the time, sometimes refocusing their attention on something positive is all they need to return to an improved emotional state.
There’s no doubt that dealing with a hot-headed toddler can be exhausting and difficult. But if it’s any consolation, just know that this stage won’t last forever. Most young ones simply have a year or two in life where their preferred method of self-expression is screaming at the top of their lungs. By the time your child is ready for school and has found more productive methods of communicating, spontaneous fits of uncontrollable anger will (hopefully) be a distant memory.
Logan Strain is blogger from San Diego who write about parenting and relationships. You can read more of his work here.