. Tantrums | Behaviour | Toddlers and Preschoolers | A Parent or Caregiver | Manitoba Parent Zone | Healthy Child Manitoba
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Toddlers and Preschoolers - Behaviour

Tantrums

Most parents will witness at least one temper tantrum – a time when your child throws his body to the floor or stomps his feet and screams. Temper tantrums are one way your child may let you know that he is very frustrated. As parents, we are often embarrassed by this behaviour as we think it means our child is bad or that we are bad parents. This is not true.

The best way to handle tantrums is to try and prevent them from happening at all. Children who are tired or hungry may be more likely to get upset and frustrated which could turn into a tantrum. If you know there are certain times or situations that are likely to upset your child and may lead to a tantrum, try to avoid them as much as possible. Some situations can't be avoided completely and in this case you can prepare yourself and your child to reduce the likelihood of a tantrum.

Keeping healthy snacks with you on shopping trips, or giving your child a five-minute warning that you'll be leaving the park, and sticking to sleeping and eating routines may help your child deal with frustrating situations and provide him the structure he needs to anticipate what happens next. Allow your child time to exercise and keep reasonable limits. Young children don't usually sit quietly for long periods of time. Bring books or toys with you on longer trips and remember to give your child attention with hugs, smiles, praise and thanks when he is behaving well.

Although there are things we can do to try to prevent temper tantrums, it is safe to say that you may encounter at least one in your parenting years. When a child is having a tantrum, it's almost impossible to force him to stop it ? you can tell him that you do not like his behaviour, tell him to stop and ensure he does not hurt himself. You may choose to hold him gently; if not, staying close is still a good idea. The best way to handle the tantrum is to ignore it by staying calm. This lets your child know that you are there for him without encouraging the tantrum. While it is hard to ignore a screaming child, especially in a public place, the best action is to wait it out. This is not the time to lecture, yell, argue or give in to your child.

Staying calm when your child is misbehaving teaches your child to remain calm when she's upset. If you yell, stomp your feet or slam doors when you are upset, your child may be more likely to do these things when she is upset. Speaking calmly and naming your feelings, "I'm worried I will be late," will help your child understand that you can be upset but still manage your feelings.

Talking about feelings and naming them can help your preschooler realize that emotions can be hard to control sometimes. Let her know that you love her always ? even if she is angry. This might also be a good time to explain why you said "no" or have certain rules. Give your child ideas to deal with her frustration, anger or sadness next time so she can learn to cope with her feelings.

Make sure you praise him for his good behaviour or when he expresses his emotions with words. Be supportive by listening to how he feels and talk about why he might feel that way, how he can cope with his feelings, and move on by letting those feelings go.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that parents do not use any physical punishment, including spanking, to correct a child's behaviour.