It’s an embarrassing moment. You’re out on errands to a grocery store with your two-year-old toddler and he or she has a tantrum. The topic of toddlers and tantrums is well-known, especially when the toddler is at the age of two, a developmental stage known as the “terrible twos.” While these tantrums can range from frustrating to embarrassing, it’s important to understand the “why” first, and then how to deal with them.
The developmental stage of a toddler between the ages of 24 months and 36 months is one that is important for number of reasons. In this stage, a toddler is starting to decrease his or her reliance on caregivers and is attempting to assert his or her independence. This stage may result in a number of social changes:
- Struggling to make choices
These can be referred to as the terrible twos behavior. It’s important to recognize that your toddler’s brain is developing extraordinarily fast during this time period. The birth-to-three period is the fastest rate of brain development across the entire human life span. The newborn’s brain triples in the first year and by the third year over 1,000 trillion connections have formed.
Tantrums, however, are prone to be difficult, frustrating, and sometimes overwhelming situations. These emotions can escalate if a tantrum occurs in public. Here is a quick list of how to deal with toddler tantrums, especially the terrible twos tantrums.
Prevent When Possible
One writer on Parents.com suggests that tantrums are more likely to occur when a toddler is hungry, tired, bored, or overwhelmed. Try to pay strict attention to your child’s nonverbal communication such as body language to notice signs that your child may be heading towards a tantrum.
Do Not Escalate
It is very easy to become mired in an emotional struggle with a toddler, especially in a situation that adds even further to your stress. The principle behind not escalating is that the situation can get out of control if you are not calm, firm, and steady. Surrendering the high ground is a recipe for disaster.
Do Not Give In
Oftentimes, with toddlers and tantrums, toddlers are demanding something, whether it’s to stay in a store or for a candy bar. The quickest way to reinforce the behavior of a tantrum is to give the toddler exactly what he or she wants during a tantrum. This creates an association between the tantrum and the reward, which will lead to more tantrums.
The subject of toddlers and tantrums has been much discussed and is the topic within many child-rearing books. While dealing with toddler tantrums can be difficult, especially when the tantrum escalates to crying and screaming, it’s important to remember that your toddler is going through a period of increased independence and that takes growing pains.
And while the 24-month to 36-month period is called the “terrible twos,” there are some social benefits gained during this period as well, including showing signs of empathy and caring.