Your perfectly happy toddler can be singing your praises one minute, then thrashing around on the floor in a full-blown temper tantrum the next. Even the best parents have to deal with tantrums. At the heart of your child’s blow-up really lies frustration, according to Mayo Clinic pediatrician Jay Hoecker. Children become frustrated when they perceive their needs aren’t being met or when they can’t communicate what they think and feel effectively. Understanding their frustration in advance can help alleviate yours when you prevent a future tantrum.
Follow through with fair, age-appropriate discipline at home. Establish guidelines and expectations for your toddler’s behavior and communicate them regularly through both praise and punishments. Established praise and punishments help you reward good behavior and prevent inappropriate behaviors.
Talk to your child before you go to stores or other places where tantrums regularly occur. Explain what you’re going shopping for. Engage your child in the shopping process by allowing him to pick out certain items on the list. Provide a toy or snack to distract him during moments when you can’t entertain him.
Try alternate means of communication. Your toddler may not know the words for what he wants or feels and you may not understand him when he tries to communicate with you. Many parents have success teaching toddlers sign language to communicate their basic needs. Toddlers can make simple hand gestures before they can say more complex words.
Limit your child’s choices to prevent him from feeling overwhelmed. For example, ask him if he wants to eat a banana or orange slices for his snack instead of asking what he wants to eat. He may choose cake, and when you tell him no, he may become frustrated and have a tantrum. Choices help your child feel like he’s in charge of the outcome.
Leave your child with a caretaker while you run errands if possible. You child may get tired or bored and express it through tantrums if he is with you. If you need to bring your child when you run errands, go early in the morning when your child is both fed and wide awake. Bring snacks and toys to help keep him happy.
Ignore tantrums once they start. This concept goes hand-in-hand with a fair, age-appropriate disciple program. When you ignore the behavior, your child sees that his behavior isn’t an effective way to communicate and won’t be rewarded. Don’t give in to your child’s tantrum, because he will learn that tantrums are a way to get what he wants.