When I was writing my book about toddlers, it was clear from the start that tantrums deserved a whole chapter to themselves. Are toddlers plus tantrums compulsory? Why do they happen? What's the best way to react? If I throw a tantrum too, can I get away with it? Parents know the answers.
True confessions - my worst tantrum
Here are some of the reasons parents told me that their child had had a meltdown:
- I had cut his sandwiches into triangles and he wanted squares
- He only wanted to wear green, but the green top was in the wash (mainly because he’d been wearing it for a week non-stop)
- Her favourite TV programme had finished
- I wouldn’t let her play with my glasses
- You put her socks on the ‘wrong’ feet – every morning. Oddly, Granny manages to get it right
- The ice cream had the temerity to MELT.
- Daddy couldn’t fix the stick that broke
- His sister has chicken pox and he doesn’t
- The toilet seat was too cold
So whilst sometimes you can anticipate and avoid a tantrum before it starts, at other times – well, there ain’t a lot you can do. Though even with the most random of tantrum triggers, you may be able to detect their root in tiredness, boredom frustration or hunger – or all of the above. It’s an impulsive reaction
But if we look again at the list above, I think there is a common thread – it’s all about control. Your toddler is coming to terms with the fact that they’re not in control of much of their world. And this makes them ANGRY. In time they will learn to handle this, plus they will start to get a bit more control as they become more independent. But for now – well, you can see how a growing realisation that somebody else calls the shots of every aspect of your life would kind of tick you off, wouldn’t it?
So when you’re tackling tantrums, one way to approach it is to let your child have more control and choice over their lives. So maybe you choose their outfit, but they have last word on shoes and undies. Or maybe they choose it all, because they'll soon learn that a sundress won't work in November.
Joanne blogs over at www.joannethecoach.com
Her book Toddlers: AnInstruction Manual: A Guide to Surviving the Years One to Four is available on Amazon in paper back and kindle versions.
The book is also raising funds for charity, as a portion of the royalties are going to Home-Start, a great charity who provide practical support to parents under stress.