By Emsie Martin
There are few things that can make a mother feel so helpless as a two-year-old’s tantrum in a store or in company. That is when the mother blushes scarlet because an old lady tells her all her child needs is a hiding. Toddler tantrums are a normal developmental phase when your little one begins to learn that he or she is no longer part of you and is capable of doing things without you. This little will causes great frustration and it is taken out on you. They go rigid, throw a tantrum while you look like a mother who has no control over her child.
A bit of screaming does a child absolutely no harm and they’re still so close to the floor that falling down and kicking their feet will do no harm. I have heard of mothers who also fall down kicking, with the astonished two-year-old forgetting what it was busy with.
There are various ways of handling these outbursts. One of the most effective ones for handling toddler outbursts is to ignore it. Unfortunately one is not always in a position to do this when, for instance, you’re somewhere in a shopping mall. It is very important to stay calm at all times.
If you don’t, the behaviour you’re addressing will only become worse. And scolding, spanking, shouting back and becoming angry all mean you’re taking notice. If he or she does something that is totally unacceptable, for instance kicking or hitting you or breaking stuff, you can say a clear “no” and physically remove the child to a place where it cannot cause damage.
They are still too small for long explanations of what is acceptable behaviour and what not. For starters, be firm and calm and pay attention when it manages to behave well. Do not take a child to the shops when it is tired, sleepy, hungry or irritable. It then becomes difficult and doesn’t know how to handle its emotions.
The terrible twos have a terrible reputation, but actually it is a wonderful time. This is the period that you get to know your child as an individual and not only as a baby. You begin to see signs of the person he or she is going to be and not as a baby only and this can be very joyful. You now learn to know a new little person.
When to seek help?
Even after you have tried to handle outbursts patiently in every possible way, there may be cases where even your best efforts fail. When you feel that the situation is exceeding your limits, it would be advisable to see a paediatrician. You must take care of yourself; your health is important and stress is not good for you or your child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you see your paediatrician or family doctor if:
- your child hurts itself or others or damages property during these outbursts;
- your child holds its breath during these outbursts, especially if it faints; and
- your child gets nightmares, suddenly begins to wet itself, gets headaches, stomach aches or panic attacks, refuses to eat or to sleep, or clings to you.
Raising children is hard work and will drain every scrap of patience you have. Good luck with the terrible twos, but even this will pass!