Time to Eat Self Control It's Mine Tantrums

Why didn’t anyone tell me that tantrums would be so challenging?

As your child grows more independent, they often react strongly and with great emotion when they are not able to get what they want. Tantrums represent the pull between independence and dependence and come from the child’s own inner struggles (not because of something you did or did not do). Temper tantrums can be scary for you and your child, but they are also opportunities for teachable moments.

Tantrums are a normal part of growing up. Almost all children will experience temper tantrums before they enter kindergarten. The amount and intensity of the temper tantrums depends a lot on the child’s temperament. Intense children who don’t like change often have really big emotions that are hard for them to control. They need a little extra help and patience from their caregivers to learn how to manage their big feelings.

Although temper tantrums are part of normal development, children need to be given the tips and tools to express their strong emotions. Young children experience every emotion and need help expressing and managing them. Your child’s feelings develop before their ability to understand their emotions.

Here’s what you can do to help.

  • Help your child calm down. This is not the time to try and reason with your child. Children can’t learn when their emotions are big. Once your child has calmed down, you can discuss the situation and help your child plan a better way to express her feelings and handle disappointment. Be brief, young children won’t pay attention to a long lecture and the teaching moment will be lost.
  • Helping your child calm down is not giving in or spoiling your child. You are teaching her an important skill. Have your child help create a safe and comfy place in your house for people to go to when their emotions are big. Even adults need to take a break sometimes. The safe place should not be used as a punishment. It is a chance for your child to calm herself down until she can rejoin the family. She can choose to end her break once she pulls herself together.
  • Some children benefit from a hug or being held and gently rocked. This is not the same as giving in to your child and does not reinforce the tantrum behavior. Giving her the cookie or toy that she is fussing over would be giving in.
  • Many children need a safe space to work out their feelings, while others liked to be held. It’s often through trial and error that parents learn what works best for their child. What worked for your first child might not work at all for your second.
  • It is important to reconnect with your child after a tantrum. Talk about what happened and help her name her feelings. "You were angry that we had to leave the park." Discuss her actions and what she can do differently next time. Give her a hug and a kiss and let her know you love her.

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