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Toddler Tantrums

A 2-year-old daughter is a bit troublesome, she’s been demanding attention and when you deny her something, she throws herself to the ground, starts crying and beating everyone who denied her what she wants.
Her parents can’t stand her tantrum and they just give her what she wants as she keeps hurting herself and everyone around. Should we blame genetic or psychological factors as fighting mostly occurs in their family? Please enlighten us on what the parents should do, Aunt Anjum.
Jazakillah khairan Aunty.
Children are adorable till the age of 3. They say cute things and melt your heart, until they throw a tantrum. Then it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
Throwing tantrums is normal for kids between the age of 1-3. That’s how they communicate when emotions overwhelm them. They do not know how to handle certain emotions and situations. Remember they do not do this deliberately so don’t take it personally.
Avoiding tantrums
1. Feelings
Acknowledge their feelings. When you see that not getting something is about to trigger a tantrum, tell the child that you understand. For example, “I know this is making you angry” or “I understand you don’t want to sleep now. That’s why you’re banging the bed isn’t it?”
No matter what the age of your child, respect their feelings. Bad behavior is never acceptable but the feeling behind it should be acknowledged and respected. Show them how to handle those feelings positively by talking about it instead negatively like crying and shouting. Show it by your own example. Don’t shout when you’re angry. Teach the child how to handle emotions by expressing them through words rather than violent actions.
2. Watch out for triggers
Hunger or sleepiness might be a trigger. Make sure your child is fed on time or well rested before going out. You know your child well so use that to avoid certain tantrums. Make your child’s basic needs your first priority.
3. Hugs
Along with acknowledgment of feelings, give ample of physical touch. Hugs go a long way in keeping the child calm. Hug when you see the child is getting upset or as a reward for good behavior. Don’t hug them during an episode of tantrum or while you’re disciplining them – during a time out, for example.
4. Distractions
For kids under 2, distractions work best. If they want something that you cant give, distract them with something else. Keep a toy that you give only in such situations. For example, when you go shopping take this particular toy so the child is engrossed. Don’t use the regular toys that the child normally plays with because they get bored quickly.
5. Ignoring
Certain tantrums can be ignored for a while. This is for small tantrums. Giving attention is a kind of reward. The child wants a reaction, don’t give her one. Ignore the ‘about to start tantrum’ and move on with whatever activity you all were doing.
Do not ignore bad manners or disrespect towards anyone. Correct the child firmly and give a timeout if they don’t stop the bad behavior.
6. Cheerful
Reward them with encouraging words when they listen to you and don’t misbehave. Be positive and upbeat around the child. Your negative moods rub off and kids pick up on that.
7. When the tantrum starts
Stay calm.
No matter what, do not shout or hit. Check yourself first. Take deep breaths and count to ten yourself before you discipline your child. Taking a moment makes you stay objective and not become emotional / angry.
Stay calm. Keep your voice firm.
8. Warnings and counts.
Whenever the child misbehaves give a warning once. In some situations counting helps. For example, “I am going to count till five and before that you have to stop…” (whatever bad behavior).
Warn that if the child doesn’t stop the bad behavior, he will have to go to the naughty stool for example.
9. Pick up and leave
In public places, do not try to calm him down. Just pick him up and leave. And calm him somewhere in private. Give a timeout session and then return to your activity. For example, go back to your car or corner and wait till the child calms down.
10. Never give in
Do not give in to demands during a tantrum. When they realize that throwing tantrums doesn’t actually help get things their way, they stop having them. Giving in is the biggest mistake because the child learns that this is the way to get what you want. It’s tempting at times because you’re tired after a hard day or getting embarrassed in public etc. It will make things worse in the long run.
11. Be consistent
It’s very tempting to give in to stop the tantrum sometimes. Also sometimes parents punish for certain behavior and ignore it at other times. That confuses the child as to what is right and wrong. Discipline must always be consistent. Also both parents must work as a team and not contradict each other.
12. Give alternatives / choices
Your kid might refuse you at times and throw a tantrum when you try to make him do something. For example, If the child doesn’t want to eat cucumbers telling him to eat it will make him say no and when you force it, it may result in a tantrum. Give him more than one option and make him choose. That makes him feel important. For example – “you have to eat one of them, either cucumber or tomato. Which one is it?” The child will always choose one. Or choosing his clothes. Show two sets and ask him to choose one.
Please note that you’re giving options after you’ve made the big decision. For example you’re giving him a bath- don’t ask him if he wants a bath. He won’t say yes. Tell him “we’re going for a bath”. Give him the option to choose his clothes, not the bath. Give him the option to choose which soap he want (keep two choices). You’re the boss, you chose the bath time according to your schedule. He doesn’t get to make that choice.
13. Make things fun
Whether it’s eating or picking toys, you can use a sing-song manner or playful methods to keep the child in a good mood and make it fun instead of a task. Keep the child involved in conversation about things he likes.
13. Timeout
Works for those over 2 years old. Make a permanent place just for this like a stool in the corner of your living room or bottom of the stairs, etc. Every time they misbehave, give a warning once and explain what is unacceptable. If the misbehavior continues, then make them sit in the timeout place. This punishment time should not exceed more than 5 minutes.
The purpose is not to torture the child but to give him time to calm down or think. It also gives you time to calm down. Do not lock him in a room alone. Do not leave him outside the house alone. Let the timeout place be where you can see him. And tell him why exactly you’re making him sit there. Be firm till the time is over. Ignore all crying and keep putting him back in the place if he gets up.
14. The word “no”
Parents often overuse the word “no”. When you tell a child they can’t do something all the time, you’re creating negativity and opening doors for rebellion. Give an alternative. If the child asks for chocolate before dinner don’t say no. Instead say, “sure you can have chocolate, we’ll have dinner first.”
15. Your own behavior
Don’t show anger and impatience as much as possible. Kids learn from adults. Work on your own behavior. You may think you’re doomed if you inherited certain problems like short temper etc. True, it will make things more challenging but there are ways around it. Before disciplining our children, we have to make improvements in our own behavior. If you think you or your child suffers from psychological issues, then it’s best to seek professional help. No doubt that our issues and behavior influence kids so do not shy away from visiting a counselor.
Parenting is not easy and requires patience from your part and asking Allah for guidance and praying for your kid’s good character. At the beginning, you may not get results immediately but with patience and consistency you will get your child to behave well In sha Allah.
Written by: Aunty Anjum
© The Islamic Reflections Blog
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