Douse those tantrums

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Some tips to help your child overcome temper tantrums

One of the most frustrating aspects that parents of toddlers face is handling temper tantrums. Almost all children throw tantrums at some time or the other. Perhaps a closer look at why tantrums occur would give you some insight into dealing with these sudden bursts of anger. Try as they might, a toddler is developmentally incapable of making complete sense of the world around him. He does not know why things happen, what is going to happen next and how he can solve problems. At the same time, his new found independence comes to the fore and he is unable to understand his limits. Delaying gratification is also not developed. "I want it now!" seems to be his cry. There is no concept of 'later' in his dictionary.

Skills of expression

A young child is unable to voice his opinion because he has not yet acquired the necessary verbal skills. Imagine how frustrating your life would be if you were not able to communicate effectively? He understands a lot more than he can express.

In controlThere are some adults who are yet to master this skill and this is magnified in a toddler. He requires an immediate outlet in order to vent his feelings of anger and rage. His options are limited though. He can't talk about it, he can't deny it, he can't suppress it... what on earth should he do? Crying his lungs out, beating his fists on the floor and banging his head seems to be the only outlet. Other reasonsSome tantrums are a result of fatigue or anger. Also adapting to unfamiliar situations, separation anxiety or a chronic medical condition could result in tantrums. Now that we are aware of the underlying reasons, we can go about dealing with temper tantrums. Reducing frustrationMake sure that your child has ample opportunity for play. This will help him use most of his seemingly endless energy. Allow him to make a few simple choices - what would you like to have eggs or cornflakes for breakfast? This will give him a sense of control over his world and thereby reduce frustration. After the tantrum beginsSee that your child is in a safe place where he cannot hurt himself physically. Then simply ignore the tantrum. Go about your usual business. Let him gain control over his emotions by himself. If you make the mistake of paying too much attention, he will use the tantrum to get your attention. When he is calm, ask in a friendly tone. "Do you feel better now?" Don't punish him for having one. Be neutral. Distract him by suggesting something fun to do together. His anger will soon fade away. Public placesIt is certainly embarrassing to have your child throw a tantrum at the market or in a friend's place. Remember to be in control of your own emotions. Don't argue with him, he is in no mood to listen to you. Pick him up and take him to a quiet corner where he can cool off. Temper tantrums occur at varying levels according to the temperament of the child. Some children are sensitive and have intense emotions. In others, tantrums occur to a lesser degree. As parents we can try and avoid letting these tantrums turn into tools of manipulation. Maintaining a balance between making the child feel safe and loved and setting firm limits to expression of feelings is something that can be done to reduce the much feared temper tantrums.FIONA SCOTT

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