Temper tantrums in children are quite common and are rarely about how good the parent is at parenting. It doesn’t mean that the child is bad either.
Temper tantrums are natural responses by the child to frustration and annoyance. The prefrontal cortex, a section of the brain located behind the eyebrows, is responsible for regulating emotions and social behavior. At the age of 4 years, this part of the brain is only beginning to mature. This immaturity predisposes them to irrational emotional displays and outbursts.
Another factor that contributes to the tantrums is the fact that children don’t think logically as adults do. To them, events which are normal for adults seem scary and confusing. This promotes the release of the fight or flight (cortisol) hormone, which causes confusion, increased blood pressure and unclear thinking.
A child’s tantrum may easily progress by the minute from an initial meltdown followed by foot stomping, and screaming and kicking when anger has reached its peak. Normally, about 3 minutes into the tantrum, the child will be looking for comfort and eventually act like nothing had happened. If you live in and around Quincy talk to our our specialists at our Quincy child care centers.
Tips on handling the tantrums
- Try to understand the cause of the tantrum. It can be caused by hunger, discomfort or wanting something they can’t have. If the child is too young to clearly express the cause of their frustration, you will need to find out ways you can understand them. One way is to use signs and have them point to what they want.
- If the child is simply looking for attention, remain emotionally composed and try to ignore the tantrum. Don’t get as mad as your child is since this will only worsen the situation.
- Don’t comfort the child during the tantrum. Instead, make the child aware that you’re sorry he is upset and that you can talk about the problem when he is calm. Doing this helps to teach the child to regulate emotions.
- If the tantrum is due to the child not wanting to do what you’ve asked of them, don’t ignore the tantrum. For instance, if the child won’t clean up or wear a coat and even resorts to biting and slapping, force it on him then put him on time-out. The time-out will serve to teach him that there are consequences for such behaviors. Try to avoid spanking and ensure that no physical violence is involved.
- Sometimes the child simply needs time on their own to calm down. Just make sure that there’s nothing in their way that can cause harm to them. You could send him into an enclosed space and let them yell out their frustration.
- Get the child away from the scene of their temper tantrum.
- Engage the child in an activity such as running in a room specific number of times, karate chopping a wrapping paper or making funny faces. This should distract him and help him calm down. The distraction strategy can also work to stop the quell the anger before in spirals into a full blown tantrum.
- A hug can work wonders.