We had had 2 very difficult weeks with Chloe. From nowhere she started having the most horrible tantrums. Never in my life have I seen something like that! She was like a child possessed screaming, crying, throwing herself on the floor …. this would last for almost an hour at a time!!!!!! What made the whole experience very upsetting is that there was nothing that me or my husband could do to help Chloe. Seeing your child, who is normally as good as an angel (and the naughtiest things she does is not to come straight away when you call her) change in to such a mess is very distressing. I have spent hours researching what it is and what can trigger it and decided to share my knowledge.
WHAT IS A TANTRUM / MELTDOWN
“Tantrum” is commonly used to describe milder outbursts, during which a child still retains some measure of control over his or her behaviour. Tantrums are part of normal developmental behaviour for children aged 1-3 and over. They are not “naughty” or used deliberately to wind you up.
“Meltdown” This is opposed to a meltdown, during which a child loses control so completely that the behavior only stops when he wears himself out and/or the parent is able to calm him down.
WHY DO THEY HAPPEN ?
Emotions and inability to deal with them are behind it.
ANGER – If the child feels angry because : You don’t want to give them chocolate which they need, don’t want to buy them new toy which they have to have, don’t let them watch more tv.
ANXIETY – is a big trigger; it causes kids to freak out, overriding the logic that would enable her to see that her anxiety is out of proportion to the situation.
FRUSTRATION – very often due to limited language, or lacking the skills to complete tasks for example: getting stuck with a jumper half-way on, or a piece of puzzle that won’t fit.
INDEPENDENCE – they want to be independent and do things themselves : walking, choosing theirs clothes, eating etc.
TIREDNESS AND HUNGER
CHANGE TO THE ROUTINE – this can unsettle your child and make them feel unsafe. Any new routine, changes in the family like an arrival of a sibling.
Or any of the reasons that Chloe has had them :
Offer them a cup of milk.
Ask them if they want to get up.
Ask if they want to eat something.
Change them out of a dirty nappy.
Ask if they are ok.
Because I looked at her.
At that would sometimes happen ….
HOW TO STOP TANTRUMS
To stop tantrums you need to help the child gain control over their emotions. Some of the most common issues that cause children to act out in negative ways are hunger, tiredness, frustration, boredom or over-stimulation.
Once you identify the real reason behind your child’s actions, you can often solve this at the first sign of negative behaviour, before your child dissolves into a full-blown tantrum.
DISTRACTION – one of the ways to stop the tantrum is to take attention away of what has triggered it. Show them something, ask them to help you etc. Get them to focus on something else.
IGNORE – if the tantrum has started then ignoring it is very often the best thing to do. Leave the room and the child very often stops the tantrum because there is no audience and they get no reaction.
HUG – sometimes they just need to be cuddled and told that it’s all ok and that you are there for them.
GIVE THEM SPACE – if it is a full blown tantrum or meltdown sometimes the only thing you can do is to leave them until they calm down.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD – if there are some changes coming to their life talk about it and explain them to your child in advance. Kids understand much more than we as parents think they do. Ask them why have they behaved like that and tell them that next time if they feel like that they can do “something” else like talk to you, come for a hug etc. With time they will learn how to deal with it.
Most important of all is to remember that you are the grown up. It can be very hard and very frustrating for the parent. I went through every single emotion I can think of when Chloe was having those terrible tantrums : sad, worried, annoyed, frustrated, angry, tearfull, heartbroken ….. when it was getting to me I raised my voice at her, told her that I would take her toys away or once when I couldn’t handle it I even compared her to “good and nice Skylar” (something I promised myself I will never do). When the situation is getting to you just take a very deep breaths and remember you are the grown up who understands what is happening or leave the room until you are composed.
Our tantrums lasted just over 2 weeks and hopefully will never come back again.
What worked for us is:
– Giving Chloe space. When the tantrum started I would take her to her room, explain that I will leave her and come back when she calms down.
– Once calm I would give her lots of cuddles and ask why she has behaved like that. Most of the time she wouldn’t know, I would try and help her identify the feelings.
– Explain to her that she cannot behave like that, that this is a very naughty behaviour and that there are consequences. Most of the time I would take away her dessert for a day or she wouldn’t have story time, wouldn’t be allowed to watch her favourite Peppa pig or go out to the playground. Also what didn’t work is taking toys away. She has lots of different toys so taking one didn’t make any difference, she would just play with something else. It has to be a real treat that you take away.
– Tell her to stamp her feet when she gets angry and tell us when she feels it coming. She would tell us now that she is getting very sad.
Good luck to anyone who is going through it. Share any good ideas that you have on hot to deal with it.