Toddler Temper Tantrums

A blog by Dr. Ashok Lodha

A temper tantrum is a behavioural episode characterized by extreme anger and frustration and seen most commonly between 18–36 months of age. Children will often express frustration through excessive crying, screaming, and violent body motions such as shoving or throwing things, falling to the floor, or even banging their heads and limbs against the floor.

Do not question your parenting abilities, no matter how irrational the child appears to be. Occasionally, children may throw tantrums in order to gain attention from parents, often to manipulate the situation to suit their wants. Sometimes, certain conditions such as being exhausted, hungry, or sick may worsen a tantrum or increase its frequency. You may think that giving in to the child’s tantrum is the only solution. However, this could be counterproductive. It might reinforce in her the notion that she could get everything she wanted by simply throwing a tantrum.

The popular acronym CALM (Communicate, Attend, Let, Make) may help you remember how to prevent your child’s temper tantrum.

Communicate well: 

Parents must set an example for their children by having good and open communication skills. Parents should avoid raising their voices too often in front of children, as the toddlers will just mimic this and think that yelling is an appropriate way to communicate with people around them. Toddlers may also benefit from being presented with facial depictions of feelings (such as a sad face, angry face, or happy face).

Attend:

Make sure that you are providing positive attention to the child, such as reading to them, playing games with them, and including them in routine cooking and cleaning. It is important to maintain age-appropriate expectations of your child’s behaviour. Limiting their exposure to violent television viewing will also help.

Let:

Let the child share their feelings. This will also help children work on their communication skills, and try to minimise the use of the word “no” (except, of course, if it pertains to a health or safety issue).

Make:

Include nap-times and meal-times a part of your child’s regular schedule. In case the toddler is away from home or misses their scheduled meal times, keep simple and healthy snacks such as fruits or crackers on hand.

What to do if a tantrum starts in a public place? 

Remember the acronym RIDD (Remain Calm, Ignore, Distract, Do) in handling temper tantrums in public places:

  • Remain calm
  • Ignore the tantrum
  • Distract the child
  • Do say “yes” when meeting the child’s physical and safety needs, but do not concede to all demands

If you are concerned about the frequency of your child’s tantrums, do not hesitate to reach out to the paediatricians at Dubai London Hospital.