Tantrums at a glance
- What are tantrums?
- How to avoid tantrums
- Strategies for tantrums
What are tantrums
Tantrums are a very typical behavior for toddlers. Most of the time, by the time children reach pre-school years, tantrums will subside. So, if you’re wondering whether or not your toddler’s tantrums or “normal,” the answer is yes! Tantrums are one way young children express emotions. Toddlers lack language ability to express their emotions verbally and often having a tantrum is the best way, they know how, to tell you want they want or need.
Tantrums can include kicking, screaming, crying, hitting, head banging, throwing bodies to the floor or all of the above! Tantrums can also vary from mild to extreme, sometimes lasting for as long as an hour. Toddlers may tantrum when you tell them “no,” or refuse to give in to their request. Kids often tantrum if their siblings are getting more attention or they lose a game they’re playing. Another important cause for tantrums are kids working to meet their basic and emotional needs.
What does mean?
How to avoid toddler tantrums
Tantrums can’t always be avoided, but by proactively meeting your child’s basic and emotional needs, you can learn to avoid tantrums most of the time.
Basic Needs: sleep, nutrition and safety
Emotional Needs: attention and power
Think about your child as having two main boxes; a basic needs box and an emotional needs box. As parents, these two boxes must be checked off daily in order to help avoid tantrums. The first, and most important box is the basic needs box. Within this box lies the golden key to tantrum free days, SLEEP. Lack of quality or quantity sleep can be responsible for about 90% of misbehaviors.
To begin diminishing those epic toddler tantrums, I want you to take a good look at your child’s sleep. Are they getting adequate quality and quantity sleep. Do they go to bed easily? Can they fall asleep independently and sleep all night? Solving sleep issues is step one in solving tantrums.
Kids need power and attention
Each and every day your child needs “X” amount of power and attention in order to have their emotional needs box checked. The emotional needs box consists of your child’s need for power and attention.
⇒Power is your child’s sense of confidence and capability.
⇒Attention is your child’s need for attention from their perspective.
Imagine your child has two large, invisible red buckets floating over their head daily.
It’s the job of parents to help fill up these buckets each day to ensure kids are getting adequate power and attention. If your child’s buckets are not full, they will fight to have these needs met, which often comes through as tantrums, whining, crying, refusing to listen or cooperate. All those behaviors that take us to our breaking point! Remember toddlers lack verbal skills to express their emotions and needs, which is why they resort to tantrums. When your child tantrums, it’s helpful to double check if you’ve checked off their boxes.
It’s important to know that toddler tantrums are completely normal, but when they do occur, know that there are strategies to help stop the tantrum. Next time your child begins to become upset I want you to first ask yourself:
- “Have I checked off my child’s Basic and Emotional needs boxes? Is my child tired or over-hungry?”
- “Have I checked off my child’s Emotional needs box? Did they get adequate power and attention today?” (Use my Golden Time Formula to fill attention buckets in just 10 minutes!)
4 steps to shorten tantrums
After you have answered these questions, you will know how to help avoid the issue going forward. But, in the heat of the moment it’s good to have some tantrum strategies in your back pocket! Let’s look at a scenario;
You’ve told your child “no” to having one more cookie. You see your child beginning to crumble, no pun intended 🙂 and it’s only a matter of seconds before your child will go from zero to sixty! Sweat, tears, screaming, tantrum overload. At this point, it’s important to help your child gain control of their emotions. You can do this by following my 4 steps to shorten tantrums:
- Get down low, to eye level and calmly, very matter of factly, validate your child’s feelings. “I can see you’re upset by not getting one more cookie. I’m very sorry, but you can have another cookie tomorrow.”
- Don’t engage. Trying to talk your child down from a tantrum typically will prolong the behavior. Instead, validate and then ask your child, “I’d be happy to chat with you when you’re ready.” This let’s your child know you are there for them, but you’re not engaging in the tantrum.
- Walk away. Give your child space to have their emotions.
- First connect and then direct. Once they are calm and ready, hug them. Give them a true moment of connection before you take time to chat with them about what caused them to become upset.
- Tantrums are normal, but they don’t need to happen everyday or all day!
- Learn to proactively check off your child’s Basic and Emotional Needs boxes to avoid tantrums.
- Follow the tantrum strategies to shorten and decrease the intensity.