We all know that toddlers and tantrums go together like peanut butter and jelly. They happen. Most parents just want to know how to stop toddler tantrums. That is a worthwhile goal but to put an end to toddler screaming tantrums, it is often helpful to know how, when and why they start in the first place.
When do toddlers start having tantrums?
While most people most closely associate tantrums with dealing with the terrible twos, the fact of the matter is that they can begin much earlier and go for longer. Children can start having tantrums when they reach about 12 months old. These tantrums can continue after they have turned four years old. While the majority of tantrums do happen when children are two years old, you should not be surprised if they happen before and after that age.
Why do toddlers have temper tantrums?
Most people can relate to the feelings that are the root cause of temper tantrums. When asking how to stop toddler tantrums, looking at the causes of them offers a way to do that. While older children and adults can deal with those emotions better, the cause is often rooted in the following causes:
- They are frustrated. Scientists have said that women are less likely to become violent than men when they are angry because they have more connections between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. That makes it easier to communicate. When adults cannot effectively communicate their thoughts, they can become frustrated. This is the same feeling that causes a number of toddler temper tantrums. They may throw a tantrum when they cannot explain what they are feeling.
- They want to show their independence. As we grow older, we often want to show how independent we are. This is not unique to toddlers, but having a tantrum is one way they can rebel.
- They have no control. When people feel powerless, they may act out in strange ways. For older children and adults, people do react to not being in control of their lives. Toddlers can experience that and the response is a tantrum.
- They are hungry, tired, bored or overstimulated. Everyone on the planet experiences these feelings. The difference between a hungry adult and a hungry toddler is that the adult can go get something to eat. If you have seen any of the recent Snickers commercials (“You aren’t yourself when you are hungry.”), you have seen that even marketers know that hungry people are cranky people. Toddlers cannot go get a snack so they have a tantrum. Deal with the underlying issue and that is how to stop toddler tantrums.
What can I do to prevent a tantrum?
Work with your child.
You may notice that your child has a tantrum before meals. This may indicate they are hungry. You can work on changing the meal schedule to make it more in line with when they want to eat. They may also think they are hungry but be thirsty. It has been estimated that many people are dehydrated most of the time and do not recognize thirst.
Proper scheduling of nap time may also make a big difference. One common problem that causes tantrums is fatigue. Is anyone at their best when they are tied? No. Work on changing up your child’s bed time and nap time to keep them from getting so tired that they throw temper tantrums.
You should keep your child’s needs in mind when you schedule activities and errands. Do not take your child to the grocery store right before nap time, for instance. That is a recipe for disaster. Be careful about when you plan big events or activities. Over scheduled children are tired children. When you are thinking about how to stop toddler tantrums, preventing them with careful scheduling is a great way to do that.
Giving your child some choice will help them.
Rather than saying, “you will eat this,” you can ask “would you like yogurt or cereal?” This gives the child some control over their life and that makes them feel better and be less prone to a temper tantrum.
You can prevent some tantrums but not all. By being careful with how you deal with some situations, you can prevent some problems.