5 common MISTAKES that aggravate your toddler's tantrums
Tantrums are one of the toughest trials every mum must face! Are you committing these 5 common mistakes that make your tot's meltdowns worse?
There's one word that strikes fear into the heart of any toddler-raising mum: tantrum! All mums have to handle the terrible twos and threes, where our precious tots morph into uncontrollable balls of pure fury.
To make it easier on yourself, here are a few things you might want to stop doing when your little one has his next meltdown.
1) Reasoning with your tot while he's upset
Have you noticed that trying to reason with your wailing toddler just makes him scream louder? Kids in the midst of a meltdown can't really handle logic, according to child psychiatrist Dr Steven Dickstein. Explanation or persuasion just overloads him further—whatever you're saying just doesn't compute.
Furthermore, when you notice he isn't listening, your soothing voice probably gets louder and angrier in turn. This reinforces your toddler's impression that screaming is the way to go when things aren't working out — hey, the adults are doing it too!
Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't reason with your tot at all. The most effective time to do it is when both of you are calmer.
2) Ignoring your tot's tantrum patterns
Yes, we know — sometimes it feels like your toddler erupts into a ball of screaming for no rhyme or reason. But in fact, the tantrums are more consistent than you think!
There are the attention tantrums, those your kids throw when they feel neglected — say you're talking to a friend or on the phone. There are the I-want-something tantrums, which happen when your toddler sees a shiny toy. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the I-don't-want-something tantrums, usually occurring when you give him a command he doesn't like.
Without realising that these different tantrums have different triggers, you might be reinforcing certain kinds of tantrums. For example, ignoring your child may correct those pesky I-want-something tantrums, but it may just worsen the attention ones. Once you've figured out your little one's trigger patterns, you can start tailoring your approach!
3) Imposing a countdown
Which parent hasn't done this? When playtime's over, you tell your tots, "Okay, two minutes more, and you'll have to stop." By giving them a few minutes more fun, you hope it'll prevent them from kicking up a fuss.
Surprisingly, this actually makes it more likely that your tots will have a meltdown! A study by the University of Washington found that when 1- to 5-year-olds were given a 2-minute countdown to put away their phones and laptops, the toddlers became more upset and less compliant.
The researchers also found the most common trigger for putting away devices to be a situational change, such as leaving the house. To capitalise on this, find simple ways to change up the situation. Getting your kids to move to another room or introducing a new activity can get them to comply more easily!
4) Giving in
This is a well-known mistake, but it still bears repeating. It's oh-so-tempting to cave in and buy your kid that toy — anything to stop his screaming! Unfortunately, your precocious child now knows that tantrums are the golden ticket to getting what he wants.
It's easy to become overwhelmed in the heat of the moment, so try planning against it. Be clear about how you want to react if, for example, your tot throws a fit in public. And get all your family members in on your plan, so that your kid can't throw tantrums with dad or grandma if it doesn't work with mum.
5) Dismissing tantrums too quickly
Psychologists say that tantrums are a normal response to anger during the terrible twos and threes. They are as normal, in fact, as a yawn is to tiredness! But dismissing them too quickly as normal may also prevent deeper issues from being addressed.
According to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, children who throw certain types of tantrums, like aggressive and prolonged tantrums, are at higher risk of disorders like ADHD. And studies have shown that more than 75% of children who had severe temper outbursts also fit the profile for ADHD. While there's definitely no reason to panic, don't hesitate to bring up any concerns you have to a medical professional.
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