Baby & Toddler

Dealing With Toddler Tantrums
By Liz Palmer

Between the ages of one and three, your previously gentle and loving toddler will have a change of personality to rival Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  She will no longer be content to accept your rules for everything, but will want her own say in what she does and does not do.  Quite frequently, this will result in toddler tantrums. 

When a toddler starts having tantrums, the first thing her parents should do is decide what is important and what isn't important.  If you want to have your own way in everything your toddler disagrees with, then you're likely to spend the majority of your time in a battle of wills.  The best plan is to make as few rules as possible.  Your child will be more likely to adhere to a lower number of rules and she will also know that those rules are important.  Letting her get away with eating breakfast cereal with her fingers may be worth the mess if you know that she will definitely hold your hand to cross a road. 

Once you do decide what is important, don't give in.  Make sure your rules are constant.  If you make a rule that no chocolate biscuits may be eaten an hour before tea-time, stick by that rule, even if your toddler's cries are loud enough to annoy the neighbours.  Once you give in and hand her a chocolate biscuit, she'll expect one every time she cries. 

A toddler has a tantrum to try and get what they want.  If this usually works, they will continue to have tantrums.  If, on the other, a tantrum never produces the result they want, they will soon give it up as ineffective.

There are a number of things you can do, when your child is in the middle of a tantrum, that does not mean having to give in.  

1.  Ignore her.  Most tantrum-throwers are trying to attract attention.  If you don't give her that attention, she will lose interest and stop the tantrum. 

2.  Send her to bed or to her room.  This gives both of you a cooling down period. 

3.  Leave her.  Obviously, don't take your eyes off the child if you do this in public. 

4.  Distract her.  Start to play with a new toy, get your child a drink, go outside for a walk.  Do whatever it takes to get your toddler's mind off the problem. 

Toddler tantrums are an inevitable part of a child's development.  They can't be completely avoided.  But with some back-up options, hopefully the amount of time your child spends in a tantrum will be reduced. 

Copyright 2000, Liz Palmer

Liz Palmer is the publisher of a weekly ezine for mothers called Mothers_zine.  It includes articles, handy hints, recipes and more.

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