The defiant two-year age is one of the most dreaded age steps for parents. After all, this is the time when there are the most tantrums in children!
The most common forms of tantrums are screaming, crying, hitting, refusing to listen and even refusing to do what the parents ask. Very troublesome behaviors occur at this age, and it can certainly be unsettling and challenging for even the most patient parents.
Walking from the playground, taking a shower or having to get out of the bath, brushing teeth, putting on clothes… Almost all daily activities can lead to a tantrum!
It is easy to lose your temper and react inappropriately if you do not understand what is going on. This is why we would like to explain why tantrums occur in children and what can be done to prevent them.
The stage where there are the most tantrums in children
Rage attacks in children are a normal and healthy part of their growth and are related to their cognitive and social development. Up to this point, the child plays a passive role and lies there almost merely, letting adults meet all their needs.
In addition, they have not yet been able to perceive themselves as independent beings with their own desires and interests.
It all changes around the age of 18 months. This is because the child becomes self-conscious and wants to express himself and become autonomous.
They “know” exactly what they want, but have no control over their own lives. In addition, they do not have the tools to express themselves. They can thus not refrain from having a tantrum in protest of not being able to satisfy their desires.
Tips to prevent tantrums in children
This stage can last until the age of four, but all children are different. Their own personality and how parents handle tantrums is crucial.
Read on for some tips on how to prevent them!
Avoid possible triggers
You may have noticed that your child is more likely to have a tantrum when they are hungry, tired or overstimulated. So you can take some precautions to prevent tantrums related to this.
First and foremost , try to establish a routine in your child’s life and stick to it. Try not to exceed mealtimes and bedtimes and adapt all other activities to their basic needs. Always carry a snack in your bag in case your child gets hungry.
2. Give alerts in advance
It is normal for children not to want to go from an activity they enjoy when they are in the middle of it. This is why you should give them a notice about five or ten minutes before you want to leave the playground or serve dinner for example.
They still have to resist, but it will be easier for them to get used to the idea if you let them know in advance. They are perfectly able to understand it.
3. Be flexible
Many tantrums occur when adults try to impose their will. Remember that your child is beginning to define their character and wants autonomy. There is nothing wrong with giving them the freedom to decide a few things that have to do with them.
Give them at least some choices that they can choose from within your boundaries. For example, let them decide which cup they want to drink milk for breakfast, which movie they would like to watch, and which sweater they would like to wear.
Let them know that some decisions are not up for discussion, such as putting on a seatbelt in the car or wearing clothes when going outside. Try to be as flexible as you can.
4. Acknowledge their feelings
Outbursts of anger occur because children do not know how to deal with and express their emotions in an appropriate way. For that reason, it is helpful to teach them about emotional intelligence.
Acknowledge and appreciate your child’s feelings. Let them know that you understand what they are feeling and that they have the right to feel it. That way, they will be able to express their feelings and will not have to express them by shouting at you.
Additional considerations about tantrums in children
The above guidelines can help prevent tantrums. However, what should you do if they have already occurred?
First, you need to maintain control over your emotions and be especially careful about what you say.
Always keep in mind that the child is not trying to humiliate you in public. They are just not able to control their emotions. Prioritize empathy and being loving and patient, but make sure they are not harming themselves or others with their actions.
Primarily, the key is to let them express themselves and be there for them in a loving way once the drama is over.
Outbursts of rage can be a challenge
Outbursts of anger are difficult and challenging for parents, but children also experience frustration and lack of resources to express it. The task of the adults is to be loving and respectful. One must thus be a positive example for the little ones.
By shouting or being physically aggressive, one will only create disgust and damage the emotional bond and the emotional development of the child. It will not provide any learning and will certainly not end the tantrum.
You must exercise empathy and try to treat the child as you would like to be treated yourself.