One of my favorite things about being a father is watching my son’s personality and sense of self develop. The kid has a great sense of humor and is constantly developing new skills. Unfortunately, as kids grow more into themselves, they also try to dictate their own will more often, even if that “will” involves dipping their hands into toilet water. As responsible parents, it is our job to teach these youngsters to resist the urge to dip their hands into the proverbial toilet, but this almost always results in the dreaded tantrum.
They don’t understand what’s wrong with the toilet, the electrical outlet, or the billions of other things that can kill them dead or are just not acceptable behaviors. Maybe you are at a loss as to how to deal with these moments of toddler defiance. Just so you know… we all are! But, here is a little advice on figuring out how to deal with those tantrums.
Is it nap time?
Fair warning, some of these tips might seem a little obvious. Unfortunately, while a solution may seem obvious while comfortably reading a blog online, it isn’t always so quick to diagnose in the moment. Kids usually settle into a routine naptime, but sometimes things come up. You might have to run to the grocery store, or mail a package, or pay a bill, and suddenly you realize it is a good hour past your child’s nap time. Kids are liable to get a little cranky when they don’t get their rest. So, if your child is flipping out in the middle of Walmart, take a gander at your watch and see if it is almost nap time, nap time, or way too far beyond nap time.
How did your child sleep last night?
Chances are, you are far more aware of how well your child slept the previous night than you would like to be. Remember that a child’s sleep patterns can be easily disrupted. Moving to a new house, staying over at a different home, potty training, and an interrupted nap can easily throw a wrench into the careful sleep training you’ve been developing over months. If your child is having a hard time sleeping, try to create a routine for them to ease back into a bedtime ritual.
Is it time to eat?
I am the first to admit that I get a bit grouchy when I’m hungry. Perhaps you do too. Something we grown ups sometimes forget is that our kids can get hangry as well. Add their limited verbal and emotional awareness to the mix and you get a tantrum. Remembering to make mealtimes a set point in the day and carrying healthy, nutrient-packed snacks with you while running errands can help resolve any issues before they explode in the checkout line.
Are you misunderstanding something?
I really can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to want an apple and only have the ability to grunt, whine, and point to convey that want. I think I would go nuts, which is kind of what a tantrum is. It helps me to realize that my son is trying to communicate with me. When that communication goes awry, he’s likely to get upset. Something I try to do, even though he is only two, is have him look at me and listen while I calmly try to make sense of his requests. That has actually diffused quite a few tantrums. It doesn’t always work, but it can be a life saver when it does.
Is it just one of those learning moments?
Sometimes, even though it might not feel like it, your child’s tantrum isn’t your fault at all. Sometimes, the kid just really wants to put their hand in that toilet. The thing is, they can’t do that. They also can’t color on the walls, hit, throw, pinch, or scream at the top of their lungs. Disciplining a child and teaching boundaries are part of parenting. Unfortunately, kids don’t understand why these things are inappropriate, and they tantrum. This is just part of the learning experience. Keep disciplining and correcting and–maybe by the time they go to college–the tantruming should stop.
Is there more to the situation?
Sometimes excessive or unexpected tantrums, when combined with other factors, points to anxiety. Children can have anxiety too, and–because of their limited vocabulary–that anxiety can be difficult to recognize. This article shares some tips for spotting the problem. If you feel like there is something else causing your child to tantrum and you can’t figure it out on your own, reach out to someone with experience in the field. It could be nothing, but it could be that you and your child can get help and advice you need to work through these tantrums and other concerns.
Ian is a professional writer, storyteller, scholar, and educator. He is passionate about not only communicating clearly, but also communicating things that matter. He believes in writing to the audience and focusing on the things they care about. He likes exploring new foods, going on walks with his son, and sparring with his friends. But at the end of the day, he enjoys nothing better than a binge session of Scrubs with his wife and a bar of German dark chocolate.
I love reading a dad’s view about a child throwing tantrums. See mom’s; dads deal with them too. Here’s another great article from a dad about being a father. Love when dads share over here on this platform.
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