consistent parenting advice
consistent parenting advice

Toddler Tantrums

One of the major problems in dealing with toddler tantrums
is handling our own angry feelings.


Learning how to handle and express anger without becoming destructive or hurtful is an important lesson for any person, child or adult.

We need to remind ourselves that dealing with our own anger is usually something we didn't learn well during our own childhoods.

angry toddler If we were taught that to be angry or to show our anger was to be bad, then we will have strong feelings of guilt and shame about our own expressions of anger.

Dealing with toddler tantrums, toddler rage, temper and sudden displays of anger, will be much easier for us if we disabuse ourselves of the whole idea that expressing anger is wrong.

Instead we need to try to accept the angry feelings and to help channel them into constructive rather than destructive ends.

We need to learn not to bottle up, suppress or destroy angry feelings in ourselves. Then we can model this behaviour to our children.

Dealing with Our Own Anger

So, how can we understand what is happening with toddler tantrums?

Toddler Tantrums - What Triggers the Angry Outburst?

toddler tantrums Firstly, we need to have some ideas about what may have triggered the angry outburst.

With toddler trantrums it is more likely to be a response to frustration. It helps to remember that toddlers are beginning to understand a lot of the words they hear, yet their inability to respond in language is very limited.

When a toddler can't express how he feels or what he wants, frustration is his natural response, over which he has no control.

When dealing with angry, struggling toddlers, try to respond rather than react. Parents need to show that they accept the child's feelings, while suggesting other ways to express them.

You might say, for example, "I can see you are feeling really angry. When you feel a bit calmer let's see how else we can do this." When teaching your child how to cope with the angry feelings, try to communicate what you expect of them. Punishing them for their outburst is not the way to communicate to children what we expect of them.

Some people suggest holding your angry child to help him feel secure and accepted, while others advocate ignoring the temper tantrums and giving attention when he is calmer. Each child is different and only you will know the right approach for your child.

It certainly helps to remember that toddler tantrums belong to toddlerhood! They are a toddler's response to frustration, a cry for understanding and oftne the only means by which the toddler can express himself. They do not last forever!

Strong feelings cannot be denied or ignored, and angry outbursts need not always be viewed as a serious problem, rather, they need to be recognized and treated with respect.

Children really thrive on security, boundaries, routines and consistent order. They don't enjoy chaos, drama, and irregularity any more than you do - even though it doesn't always appear like that!.

  • You are the parent
    Remember that your child would prefer to be in control and is already frightened by his powerful emotions. Stay calm and be clear, firm and consistent in your approach.
    No matter how long the tantrum continues, don't give in to unreasonable demands or try to negotiate with your toddler. This will only teach him to throw a tantrum to get what he wants. Try to take him out of the situation if you are in public to prevent it escalating, or you giving in. Stay quietly with him.

    consistent parenting advice

  • Talk about it when your toddler is calm
    Reassure him by acknowledging what happened. Help him express his feelings by mirroring his words for him.
    For instance, "You felt angry because you wanted something you couldn't have. Now you are quiet let's talk about what we can do about that".

  • Pay attention
    Often toddler tantrums can be avoided if parents are tuned in to their child's situations. Try not to push them past their coping points around food, drinks, or sleep times. Often as parents we expect a great deal more than our youngsters are capable of.

  • Communicate
    Prepare them by communicating clearly what's ahead and what you expect. "We will be leaving the playground in five minutes." Often toddler tantrums can be averted by an alert parent on the look out and tuned into their toddlers' signs.
    When your toddler has a meltdown, love him through it and lighten up around it.

  • Be Consistent
    Be clear, firm and consistent in the way you deal with your toddler. This way he has clear emotional boundaries around him.
Anger

How Do We Deal With Our Own Anger?

toddler tantrums As a family counsellor, I am constantly aware of the high numbers of clients over the years for whom anger has been a huge issue. Their predictable question is usually, "How can I learn to 'deal' with it?"

My response is to help them search for what is hiding below the layers of anger, what the anger is signposting to them, and to try to recognise what the anger is telling them.

When you think about your feelings of anger in this way, rather than being frightened, guilty or ashamed of them, you can see them as being useful to you.

Seeing anger as a signpost to some deeper unexpressed emotion such as hurt, rejection, shame or fear, often provides us with an answer to the problem of dealing with anger.

I encourage you to seek professional help if you are dealing with ongoing or deep-seated issues in this area. Your children will thank you for it by learning from you how to deal with their toddler tantrums, anger, tension and stress.

Toddler Tantrums: Dealing with Our Anger - a case study

(Names changed to protect privacy)

Kevin came for help feeling very ashamed of his reactions to two year old Martin's temper tantrums. Kevin's partner and extended family members had pointed out that Kevin's angry responses were harmful to Martin.

Kevin realised he had a longstanding anger problem which caused him to be verbally abusive to his family, and more recently to a work colleague.

He had also realised that his toddler's sudden, but violent outbursts of anger were really pushing his own buttons, and confessed that he was having trouble controlling his feelings of rage when confronted by Martin's toddler tantrums.

After some soul searching, Kevin identified that his anger was signposting feelings of hurt and rejection that he had carried without expressing for many years. Verbal anger has become his valid way of expressing these other painful emotions.

Further counselling helped Kevin to identify and talk through these hurts. It also helped him to understand how Martin's toddler tantrums hooked into his own unresolved childhood feelings.

Today Kevin reports that regularly working through his own anger issues has helped him to treat his child with respect and he no longer fears being triggered by Martin's frustrated rages.

More about Expressing Feelings:

Happy Child - helping our children to express their feelings
There is a great deal we as parents can do to help our children to acknowledge and express their feelings, to become a happy child.

How to express emotions through talking
Talking about how we feel is really one of the most adequate ways of expressing feelings. It takes courage, timing, opportunity and a good listener. This is important.

Releasing emotions through crying
Crying is a natural way of releasing emotions from our bodies. Those, for whom crying comes easily, often remark about how much better they feel after a good cry. But for many, there is much fear associated with appearing vulnerable and letting go, shame about being seen to cry, or a life time of suppressed tears that just will not come.

Aggression in Children
Aggression in children is part of their normal pattern of development. Young children can act aggressively when things don't go their way - they lash out, bite, kick, hit and punch - all highly embarrassing to their parents!

Terrible Twos
Terrible Twos behaviour is natural behaviour for growing little ones. It has nothing to do with good or bad children. It's completely natural for your toddler to start saying NO!

JustParents
JustParents is a friendly parenting and pregnancy community site including a gender predictor, pregnancy due date calculator and loads more tools and resources for parents.








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