1. Practice Attachment Parenting
We have noticed that infants who are carried a lot and whose cues are sensitively responded to are more mellow, less prone to tantrums, and are able to ride the waves of emotional upsets without falling apart so drastically. Because they operate from an inner peace, they are less prone to impulsive behavior or angry outbursts. Children, however, who are parented with less attachment are less able to recover from emotional storms. Attached parents can read their child so well that they naturally create conditions that minimize tantrum behavior. Practice as many of the attachment styles of parenting as you can, as often as you can. Making it easier to deal with temper tantrums is one of the immediate payoffs of attachment parenting.
2. Minimize the Triggers
Tantrums usually occur at the worst time for parents: you are on the phone, at the supermarket, busy with your agenda. Think about it. The very circumstances that make a tantrum inconvenient for you are what set the toddler up for a tantrum. Wise parents avoid situations that lead to emotional overload in their children. Keep a tantrum diary, noting what sets your child off. Is he bored, tired, sick, hungry, or overstimulated? Prepare a behavior chart. Making this chart will help you analyze what you know and observe about your child. Behavior charts also help you create conditions that encourage calm behavior. You may discover that tantrums occur most often before naptime or bedtime, or when parents are busy making dinner. They may happen when you return home from a play date at a friend’s house all morning. The chart may show that the child behaved well during meal preparations when he was allowed to help and nibble. Learn from this bit of childhood history so that you don’t have to repeat it. When you discover a tantrum-prevention technique that works, use it again.
Even with your best efforts, tantrums will still erupt from time to time. Try to diffuse them early. Know your toddler’s pre-tantrum signs – body language that signals the coming storm. Our Lauren has a short fuse. The slightest setback can cause her to fall apart. When she is trying to retrieve a stuck toy from beneath the couch, I stand by and watch as she pulls on the toy, her face getting redder and murmurs some angry sounds. I intervene early, after only one or two unsuccessful attempts on her part to retrieve the toy. Once those murmurs begin, she can no longer think straight. With our children who had more patience at that age, I would stand in the background and let them work on their problem a bit longer. In parenting the tantrum-prone child you must learn to strike a balance, knowing when to stand by and let the child work through the difficulty on her own, and when to intervene. Be careful, though, not to protect your child from ever being frustrated. It would be impossible for parents to arrange life so nicely for a child who is already of a mild temperament that he would not be getting a healthy share of frustration. Then he’ll enter the next stage not knowing how to say “no” to himself, or handle frustration . A child will not learn how to solve problems unless he has problems.
3. Know Your Anger Buttons
Some toddlers, behaviors push parents’ anger buttons a lot, and some parents have very sensitive buttons. The combination of the tantrum-prone child and a parent with a short fuse is at risk for major conflicts. You’ll learn quickly how a mature response to your child’s tantrum can mean the difference between your child raging, totally out of control, and your child being normally frustrated. Identify which behaviors cause you to blow easily. Assess how you react to your toddler. If you regress to tantrum behavior yourself, seek professional help to get your buttons reset.
|My Child Behaves Best When:||My Child Behaves Worst When:|
|I’m attentive||Shopping in the afternoon|
|She’s well-rested||I’m too busy for too long|
|She’s held in a sling||There’s too much commotion|
|She’s busy||She’s bored|