Ever have one of these days? Lying in the aisle of Walgreens is your two year old. He is kicking, screaming and barely conscious from the explosion of sound, frustration and physical release that just left his body. All you can say to yourself is… REALLY??? Some days are better than others in dealing with such public embarrassment. The best way to handle this age of temper tantrums is to understand why they occur and prepare yourself for ways to avoid and handle them when they do occur. Trust me, they will occur in the most awkward of times.
What is a temper tantrum? (Before I write the exact definition, let me just say that I LOVE the internet. Where was this when my kids were growing up? Yeah, I know, not all of the information is accurate. However, on this topic, good stuff. I will list the links below) A temper tantrum is a raw and unplanned extreme emotional response to frustration, emotionally overwhelming situations, anger, sadness, unexpected events or opposition by another person.
Whew! That is a long definition. Yet, very accurate. Put yourself in the shoes of your toddler. Here you are seeking experiences, looking to be more independent, and for the most part enjoying life. You are in Walgreens and see the most awesome baby board book called ‘I Am! Yo Soy!’ The baby on front cover is so cute and smiling at you. You just have to hold it. So, you reach for it. Hmmm, not working. So you reach out again, this time taking two steps closer to the books. Nothing. Frustration starts to set in. You turn, look over at mom and point, then grunt. Nothing. No response. Mom is busy. You grunt again and this time point more fiercely. Nothing. In fact, this time, mom looks over and says, ‘Come on, let’s go’. That does it. You freak. Misunderstood once again. Based on your limited experiences and lack of language development, you do not care how this conversation goes down. You WANT THAT BOOK! So splat, on the floor you go. Most likely mom will not get the fact you want the book and most likely at this point does not care. She is now feeling like that mom everyone talks about who cannot control that kid in the store. (Oh, I remember the good ole days)
So what can you do to avoid such treachery as a parent?
1. Understand that this will happen and why it happens. Don’t take it personal. About 80% of children from the age range of two to four are likely to have frequent fits of temper.
2. Avoid public displays by doing the best you can to NOT take them out at times when you know they are the most likely to act up.
3. Explain clearly to your child your expectations in certain places. I used to let my kids know in the car before we entered a public place what my expectations were of their behavior and what to expect if they did not behave that way. We left many stores before I wanted to.
4. Give your child choices. This helps them to develop critical thinking skills and gives them a sense of power over their situations.
5. Talk about it with other parents. It can be quite funny or be a gauge if the situation is getting out of control. Ask for help if needed.
Most of all, be consistent and try to remain calm. If children know what to expect, they feel safe, secure and loved. Anyone (including pets) will listen and respond positively when they know what to expect.
Here are those links that I promised.
KidsHealth.org - http://www.bing.com/health/article/kidshealth-1250016491/Temper-Tantrums?q=temper+tantrums
Wisegeek – http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-temper-tantrum.htm