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Temper Tantrums Explained

Scream and Shout
Scream and Shout
mdanys photostream

Do you know that there are three types of temper tantrums? And that most sweet, good-natured babies will turn into shrieking, kicking, throw herself on the ground little people at some time in their toddler years? And, of course you think that it's your fault and that you're a bad parent. And of course it will occasionally happen out in public where everyone can see your child, and you, and will most likely be judging you for your parenting skills. So what do you do?

Before you can do anything, you have to understand why your child is behaving this way. First, be reassured that this is perfectly normal and usually manifests itself beginning at around 18 months and will most likely end by age 4 or 5. (Thank goodness!) Tantrums come about because as children develop, their communication skills must also develop but while they are learning to do this, they often become totally frustrated by their inability to express themselves, to gain understanding of new emotions and also develop their need for independence. This can be an intense and explosive time for your child and you so the better your understanding the easier it will be to handle.

"There are three types of tantrums:
1. The emotional meltdown, which is when a toddler gets overwhelmed by feelings or sadness, hurt, excitement, or fear, and just loses it.
2. The situation tantrum, which comes from getting angry or frustrated about a particular situation, such as having to sit still for too long or being unable to do something she wants to.
3. The mock tantrum, which is manipulative behavior that starts to occur when you give in to situation tantrums. Tantrums can go on for years if not handled effectively and there are definite triggers such as tiredness, hunger, or not getting their own way."

Tantrum type has to be figured out before you can decide how to handle it. And you also have to be aware that you can't completely avoid tantrums as they are a normal part of child development. But if you can learn what triggers your child's meltdown, you can often help them avoid reaching that point of no return.

Be aware that young toddlers often want to do everything themselves, even when they are not capable of doing so. They function best when on a regular schedule that includes naps and mealtimes, which aids in avoiding their being overtired and hungry. Carry snacks, toys, drinks, a change of clothes and diapers when you go out with your toddler. That way, you are prepared for anything. Accept that there are times that you can do nothing to avoid the tantrum and stay calm. And try not to overload them with too much or too little stimulation or too many new things at once.

An effective book that goes into detail is "Jo Frost's Toddler Rules-Your Five Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior." This can be found at the Vineland Library or purchased on and is filled with examples of behaviors and suggestions for how to handle them. Another good source for child development books is Bogart's Books on High Street in Millville. This is a used book store which is also a book exchange so you can trade in books to fund your new purchases., which is a great deal for parents on a budget.

The tantrum phase can pass very quickly if you learn to spot them before they occur, respond effectively, and minimize frequency by adhering to guidelines mentioned.

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