Parents aiming to help a toddler who is having a meltdown or tantrum need to understand what is causing the tantrum. Try to think of a tantrum as a reaction to something upsetting, frustrating, or scary. Your young child will not always respond in the way a grown-up would. Instead, they cry or yell. Help your preschooler through a meltdown with these tips.
- Resist the temptation to give in. Resist the temptation to end the tantrum by giving the child what he wants when he has a meltdown. When parents give in to a tantrum, it only shows the child that his fit worked. Some children throw tantrums in order to get their way. It is important for parents not to reward bad behavior.
- Do not reason with a preschooler. Another thing you do not want to do is try to reason with a child who is upset. You want to encourage your child to communicate clearly and appropriately, which does not happen when they are throwing a fit. You may need to teach techniques for working through problems, breaking them down step by step for children who are immature in that kind of thinking and communication. Teaching needs to happen at a calm time, not in the middle of a meltdown.
- Respond in the appropriate way. Tantrums happen for a variety of reasons, and they often require different types of responses. If your child is acting out because they are hungry or tired, some food, a nap, and a little comfort can help get them back on track. Some outbursts occur because your toddler wants something she cannot have, or she does not want to do something she has been asked to do. Often it is best to ignore the tantrum and try to redirect her attention to a different activity. Some toddlers may not be able to grasp the concept, but for older children, a time out or being sent to their room may be appropriate.
Hopefully, as your toddler matures, they will learn how to better deal with big emotions. As they learn to communicate and cope with frustration, they will have less irritation and more self-control which will mean fewer tantrums.
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