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Handling Temper Tantrums

Aug 17, 2007
Every child undergoes a period when he is becoming less patient and is somehow frustrated at how limited his abilities can be. This disappointment and struggle to grasp greater control of things is often vented through an activity referred to as temper tantrums.

Experts claim that temper tantrums generally manifest in children aged one to three years. Temper tantrums can be a nightmare for parents who grow impatient with their child's behavior.

Temper tantrums are manifested through crying, screaming, and breath holding, hitting and kicking. The loud screams and cries usually annoy people. The parents almost always want to disappear when their child is throwing tantrums. Alas, they can never do that.

Psychologists remind parents that temper tantrums are a normal part of the child's maturation process. Some children are more prone to developing the habit of throwing temper tantrums and some tend to cease the habit.

Another setback to this behavioral problem in children is that you will never know when a child will suddenly burst out, and you can never tell where. You might have seen children throwing tantrums at places like the movie house, the grocery, and church or even at the bank.

That is why it is imperative that parents know the basics of handling temper tantrums in their children. First-time parents especially should be educated about the subject. All parents, even those who already have children, can also use a refresher.

Moreover, experts warn that not all parents are dealing with the temper tantrums appropriately. While others may be satisfied with their small strategies to pacify their children, it is not assured that those schemes are healthy.

Dealing with a child who is throwing temper tantrums:

There are many simple means on how parents can deal with their children amid a temper tantrum episode. Take note of the following simple guidelines.

Be sure to be firm and in control. Moreover, do not throw tantrums yourself. Spanking and yelling at the child during such episodes is not helpful. Doing this only triggers the child to cry and scream louder.

If it is clearly indicated that the child is having tantrums just to get something, remember not to give in to the child's demands. Children may be small and younger, but do not underestimate them. If you pamper them just to keep them quiet, you may develop an impression that he should just throw tantrums whenever he wants something or whenever he wants a person to do something for him.

When the child throws tantrums at home, just put him in a room or his crib, where he can scream, kick and cry as freely as he chooses. Call this "time out" for the child. Let him ventilate his frustration. Within a few minutes, he will tire and realize that there is no point continuing the activity. It may be difficult hearing the child do so, but endure it. You will be doing yourself and the child a favor.

If you cannot leave your child alone while he is having an episode, just sit away from him. Do not lift a finger or try to pacify him, let him do it voluntarily. Avoid developing eye contact with the child during the tantrum episode.

If you happen to be in a public place when the tantrum occurs, take the child to the car. Put on his seatbelt and let him vent his frustration inside. You may opt to remain inside or step out of the car during the duration of the episode, but never leave the child completely unattended.

If, unfortunately, you are in a long line in a grocery, let the child have his moment. Still, do not try to pacify him. He may be smart enough to capitalize on the fact that there are other people around just to get what he wants. Ignore the nasty comments and the glares of all other people in the line. It is funny how the line will move quickly when there's a child throwing tantrums. Of course, the cashier will aim to move faster just to get rid of the child. That way, you are doing everyone a good and practical favor.

Talk to your child after the temper tantrum episode. Emphasize that what he did was inappropriate. Toddlers also understand what his parents tell him, so talk to him also as gently and as patiently as possible. Teach the child the habit of just saying, "I'm angry!" whenever he feels frustrated and disappointment.

Seeking experts' help:

Of course, there are situations when the parent should seek professional help, such as when the parent still feels his measures are inappropriate or when the parent becomes uncomfortable with the recommended responses to the episode.

Professional help should also be sought if the child starts hurting himself amid tantrums, or if he learns to be destructive and throws objects.

Sometimes, tantrums can also be mistaken for regular crying sessions, when the child could not express unbearable pain or discomfort. He may be feeling ill, so check the body temperature for any indication.

Tantrums are a natural part of the differentiation process. The best way parents can deal with the situation is to be calm and in control. Remember, you are the parent. Keep this in mind next time your child throws a temper tantrum.
About the Author
Dori Thompson shares her experience as an alternative health care practitioner through several health-related sites including Health Corral
, a resource site from an alternative and complementary medicine viewpoint. She also writes articles for Community Food
, a site all about wholesome food and nutrition.
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