Stamp! Holler! Yell! The child was wrapped in the throes of an uncontrollable emotion as he laid down with flailing arms on the hard floor yelling his tonsils out. The mother sheepishly looked all around to hide her embarrassment but in vain. The onlookers smirked and miffed at her efforts to bring the child to order.
A parental agony
Almost every parent has gone through the agony of an aggressive violent fight over toys, a fuming temper tantrum, belligerence at home and class. A TV remote, bedtime, bathing, phone, market, public place, car rides anything can trigger a tantrum. If you close your eyes you will realize this happens all around. This is a routine outburst shown by all young preschoolers falling in the age group of 2-5 years. First thing of reassurance is to remember that this is a transitional phase and will pass very smoothly with time.
Reason for a temper tantrum
Children have a very small attention span they skip from one irksome activity to the other in minutes. Try to remain calm composed and cool and borrow a sense of humor set within a limit. The children see the world through rose colored spectacles. They strive for independence and are very anxious to learn a lot right away.
They realize that they are unable to complete what they started out to do due to lack of skill and language. This leads to the building up of dissatisfaction and an aggravated state of acting out. The temper tantrum is a state of acting out the frustrating emotion by the child. Toddlers hold themselves to ransom and say “no” often to evaluate their competency and they end up being defiant and rebelliously bold.
Every developing child shows this stage and will soon outgrow it. As a reaction the kids tend to cling and latch on to elders. They grumble, yell, fight, shout and resist. A temper tantrum is normal but if the intensity and frequency are on an upswing it is a cause for concern.
A two year old
This is the testing phase of the parents; their own egocentric children test them. Children are busy evaluating their teachers and parents to see when their patience is exhausted. The children are assessing the tolerance level of the parents constantly at this stage and are totally blind to the parents perspective.
They are busy marching on ahead in their struggle for independence and exploration of their surroundings. The children set a goal that they intend to achieve and if they are unable to reach they throw a fit. They yell, hit, argue and cry at the top of their lungs. The parents and teachers fear that the child might hurt himself in this thrashing about and intervene by exercising their power. The children at this stage are unreasonable and no amount of explanations and cajoling works for them. They take a breath only if their demands are met.
A three year old
At this stage the kids are more in control and less impulsive. The temper tantrums reduce and they are slowly developing a command over the language. But sometimes old habits die hard. They know how to get their way.
A four year old
By now the kids are stumbling around with assured physical and motor skills. They are turning independent and use language proficiently. They learn to communicate and carry out efficient problem solving. But when they are faced with a situation of extreme stress like an academic hurdle, school demands and interpersonal issues, they may resort to a tantrum.
Prevention is better than cure
The issue has to nipped in the bud. The tantrum has to be controlled before it gets a chance to come out as an outburst. Positive reinforcement of the child the moment the child is about to lose his top works wonders.
In a negative situation one needs to carefully note the positive actions and praise or reward them for e.g. “You are a very good boy, you gave your pen to your sister.” Instructions need to be given and followed.
The child should not be asked for permission when he has to do a task you want. If it is dinnertime the child has to be instructed to sit on table for the meal not asked if he feels like a bite. In this way he will understand the value of authority.
The child needs to be made to feel important so give him the power of making a choice sometimes. He realizes that he can also be in control. For e.g.: Do you want to change your clothes or pack your bag for school first? He will get a feeling of self worth and respect decisions made by another in the long run.
Keep the child away from the things and activities that are undesirable rather than snatch things from under his nose.
If you feel an unpleasant situation arising change the environment for the next, take him away from the source of agitation or redirect him to another enjoyable activity.