While parents often try to prevent temper tantrums, experts now suggest that tantrums are simply a mechanism for toddlers to release frustration and let off some steam when words are difficult to express. Here's some expert advice on how to handle this behavior and teach your child other ways to steam:
1. Keep calm as you work through the tantrum
As the role model, your child will look to you to see how you handle your anger or frustrations. It might be tempting to yell at your child to stop, but the better approach is to be calm, and communicate with your child with just a few clear words.
2. Walk Away
Yup, you heard right. Of course, make sure you can see your child and they are safe, but it's better to give the tantrum no attention. Kids love your attention, so try not to give attention to behaviors you are trying to prevent.
3. Find somewhere private
When the dreaded public temper tantrum happens, and believe me it will, simply tell your child calmly that it's not acceptable to behave this way in public, then pick them up and take them somewhere they can let of the steam more privately. The car is often a great first choice or the public bathroom. Once you are in a quieter place, calmly tell your child that the behavior is not acceptable and that they need to stop. Then give them space and remember . . . no attention!
4. The tantrum that won't stop
When tantrums continue, its often better to change plans, even if it's an inconvenience to you. If you are in public or with friends on a play date, let your child know calmly that if they don't stop the bad behavior, you will take them home. Tell them they have just 1 minute to stop. If you are out having fun, these words will probably provoke the tantrum further but hopefully, they will calm down within the minute. If not, you have to follow through with no apologies. You may even have to carry a screaming child but stay calm and focused on heading home. Next time, your child will know you mean business and may calm themselves rather than loose out on a fun activity, but for many of us, we have to do this a few times until our precious one gets it.
5. Don't try to reason with your child
Kids having tantrums are seeking your attention in some way. Reasoning gives the child that attention but also teaches the child they might get something out of it.
Finally, a couple of hours after the tantrum, take a minute or two to talk to your child. Explain that tantrums are not allowed and ask them what they think should happen next time they get upset about something. This opens the conversation to proactive problem-solving strategies which is a valuable skill at any age.