Why Your Kid Can’t “Calm Down” During A Tantrum And What To Do About It

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We’ve all heard about the terrible twos, but did you know it could continue to the threes, fours and fives? Toddlers can test your patience at times and they usually can’t help themselves. Most parents find it tiring and frustrating to deal with the tiny tots and all their antics at this period. Even the most docile baby can turn into a disagreeable, aggressive toddler. But why? And how do you discipline someone who loves saying “no” to all your suggestions? Unfortunately like everything else to do with parenting, there is no handbook on how to best discipline your little troublemaker. Until your child has a grasp on how to conduct themselves in socially acceptable ways, the tantrums are going to keep coming. And they may not be able to help it as this is the period where they learn to deal with their emotions slowly. If you’d like to know more about why your child can’t calm down during a tantrum and what you can do about it, keep reading!

Why Can’t Your Kid Calm Down During A Tantrum?

Why Can’t Your Kid Calm Down During A Tantrum

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Your child can’t calm down because their brain is not capable of doing that just yet. Our brain can be divided into emotion and rational aspects. The emotional aspects are more primitive and instinctual which is why sometimes even identifying your feelings can be tricky. The rational aspect helps us plan, think before we act, make moral decisions, and see things from another perspective. So, what happens to your toddler when they have a tantrum? Well, their emotional and impulsive parts take over and it’s impossible for the logical, rational part of their brain to balance those strong emotions out as it is still developing. For the child’s developing brain, it’s hard to try and see things from the perspective of their parents and to calm down. This is mainly due to the rational part of their brain being shut down when they throw a fit which means that tactics like reasoning with your child will not work if you’re trying to put an end to the tantrum.

Why Is Your Child Throwing A Tantrum?

Why Is Your Child Throwing A Tantrum

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To understand how to prevent or deal with tantrums we must first understand why your child is having one. There is usually only one reason for this behavior. Your child throws a tantrum when they don’t get what they want and their emotions overwhelm them. If your baby is around 1 or 2, this could be mainly because they can’t communicate well with you and resort to crying to get their needs met. If your little one isn’t so little, it’s probably a question of independence. Your baby has finally learnt to identify what they want and know how to ask for it. So, if they are still denied it, they get really upset. This doesn’t even have to be an object. Sometimes it’s an action they are unable to do by themselves. For example, they may get frustrated while trying to tie their shoelaces. They might need your assistance but don’t want to ask for it as they are exercising their independence.

Prevention Is The Best Solution

Prevention Is The Best Solution

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When it comes to dealing with tantrums, the best thing you can do is prevent one from ever occurring. Reinforcing positive behavior that your child exhibits is a great motivator for them to steer clear of the tantrum tracks. Little ones love to focus on the positives, so use this strategy to your advantage. Rather than reprimanding them about negative behavior, show approval when they practice positive behavior. One great way to avoid or get rid of unpleasant behavior is to teach your child what kind of behavior you want them to exhibit instead. This also means leading by example and sticking to your word. If they are not allowed to yell at people, neither are you. Shouting at your child for screaming will do nothing but confuse them. Instead show them how to interact with people appropriately and how to express their concerns in socially appropriate ways.

What To Do If The Tantrum Has Already Started?

What To Do If The Tantrum Has Already Started

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Clutch your pearls and hope for the best. We’re kidding. There are things you can do to minimize the emotional meltdown your child is having. First, try removing them from the scene. If you are at home or in a store, go out and let them walk beside you or sit down until they get a hold of their emotions. If all else fails, distract! If your little one has already started to have an outburst, you can keep a bag full of goodies that may act as the potential solution to your problem. This trick works especially well if you’re in a public place. Say for example, you’re at the mall and your child throws a tantrum because they can’t get their hands on all the candy they see. Simply pull out the fun bag and hand them their favorite toy, book or snack in case they are hungry. A good way to stop a tantrum is to redirect your child’s attention and engage them in an alternative activity.

Dealing with tantrums may seem complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Now that you have a deeper understanding of why your child acts like they do, you’ll know what to do the next time a tantrum occurs. Happy parenting!

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.