There are many things we can expect from infants and toddlers, and the occasional temper tantrum is one of them. And while temper tantrums are no fun for parents or anyone else to deal with, they also offer opportunities to educate and alter behavior — and with the right approach, tantrums can be limited and continue dropping in frequency as the toddler ages.
At Lit’l Scholars Learning Centers, temper tantrums are something we’re used to dealing with in our infant and toddler care programs, which are just one part of our robust child care center in Utah. We’re happy to work with parents of infants who are having greater or more frequent tantrum issues than usual, applying caring and unique approaches to each child to meet their needs. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over everything parents should know about temper tantrums in their young ones: Why they happen, how we can limit or avoid them, and what should be done while they’re in the process of happening.
Why Infants and Toddlers Have Temper Tantrums
Temper tantrums will vary in nature between children, with common symptoms including things like whining, crying, kicking, and screaming. Though there are reasons for such behaviors besides frustration — physical discomfort, lack of sleep, hunger, etc. — they’re most often the result of a child’s inability to verbally communicate what he wants or needs.
For this reason, tantrums are most common when kids are tired, hungry, or bored. They can also happen when kids feel like they don’t have our full attention, and they proliferate after we’ve spent a lot of time with them and/or before we’ll be spending more time away from them (after an errand ran, for example). That’s why tantrums are so common in grocery stores, for instance, where children are overstimulated and over-tired.
Tantrums tend to begin during the second year of a child’s life, when children are more likely to understand the world around them, but still lack the ability to communicate what they want or need. However, whether they continue to increase in frequency or go in the other direction largely depends on how they’re handled by parents and other adult figures.
Our next several sections will go over strategies to help limit and eventually even avoid temper tantrums.
First and foremost, get in the habit of rewarding your child for positive behavior, even when it comes to things like tantrums. If your child wants something he knows he’s not allowed to have at the time, give him a hug and tell him you’re sorry that he has to wait.
If he seems especially frustrated or distraught after being told no by his parents again and again, consider rewarding him for good behavior before it escalates. Even the best parents can’t expect their kids never to have tantrums, but you can limit them by praising your child for good behavior before he’s asked for something multiple times and is refused.