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Tantrums: How to Handle Baby and Toddler Outbursts

by SarahD on October 5, 2010

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What to Do When Your Infant is Having a Temper Tantrum

You’ve seen those haggard mothers in the grocery store, at the mall, or waiting in line at the Post Office, carrying a screaming child and trying to shush him.  And you no doubt wondered why that woman couldn’t control her kid.  But now that you have kids of your own, and you’ve found yourself in the same hot-seat, with people staring at you in disgust, you’re beginning to wonder if, in fact, there is ANY way to quiet your child when they throw a tantrum.  It’s simply not feasible (or smart) to give your child absolutely everything you want, but the tantrums are starting to get out of hand and you just don’t know what else to do!  First of all, you need to calm down and look at the situation rationally.  After all, who is training whom, here?  If you want to know how to keep your child calm and quell the tears, here are a few simple steps you may want to follow.

1.  Determine triggers.  Knowing the cause of your child’s tantrum can help you to preempt it in the future.  Of course, most tantrums stem from loss, such as having toys taken away or getting dropped off at daycare.  This usually can’t be avoided for long, but you can find ways to work around it.

2.   Try different solutions.  Kids are all wired a little differently, so what works on one may not produce the same results in another.  Some children respond well to affection while others simply need a distraction.  The truth is, you’re pretty much going to have to try a slew of tactics to come up with the best way to prevent a tantrum, or stop it once it starts.

3.  Calm is key.  If you are upset and nervous, it’s not going to do anything to help the situation, and in fact, it will almost certainly make things worse.  Speak in a soothing voice, stroke your child’s head, and simply try to relax.  This will work a lot better than yelling, spanking, or yanking them out of a store, and it will leave your child feeling safe and loved.

4.  Consider baby sign language.  One of the main reasons tantrums occur is because small children are often unable to express themselves (or at least do so adequately to be understood).  For this reason, teaching your baby sign language (their manual dexterity develops before verbal language skills) can allow them to speak to you in simple but clear language starting at the age of 6-8 months.

5.  Let them cry.  Many parents are leery of letting their child cry, but you also don’t want to confuse them by suggesting that their feelings are wrong or bad.  Children have little recourse when they get upset about something and you don’t want to take away their one outlet for exhibiting frustration.  In addition, your attempts to coddle them may only reinforce that their bad behavior will receive attention.  So leave off and let them cry it out.  Eventually, they’ll get bored and move on to the next thing.

Sarah Danielson writes for Mortgage Brokers where you can compare thousands of mortgage deals to find the one that’s best suited for you.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carolyn October 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

There are different reasons for tantrums in young children and each need to be handled differently.

Sign language for babies and toddlers is an excellent resource tool to use in allowing them to be able to communicate their message to others, well before they have the verbal skills to do so. When babies and toddlers want something, ask for it and don’t get it, they get upset. IF the problem is that the parent hasn’t understood the request, then the result will be a tantrum, because they don’t know how else to express how they are feeling.

Teaching sign language to babies and toddlers should be a fun exercise where you enjoy playing with and teaching your child new skills.

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