Alexia Santamaria spoke to human behavioural specialist and author Dr John Demartini about toddlers and their tempers.
Toddler temper tantrums are the bane of most parents' lives. A seemingly smooth morning can turn into an international incident over something as minor as Mum or Dad not letting their little cherub cut the apple himself – with the 25cm chef's knife. While tantrums are infinitely frustrating for adults, especially in shopping malls and other public places, they are a crucial learning opportunity for our little ones. Let's face it, we've all worked with someone who doesn't know they can't always have their way, and we don't want our kids to grow up to be that hissy-fit-throwing adult.
Dr John Demartini is considered one of the world's leading authorities on human behaviour and personal development. He has some thoughts on why tantrums happen and how we can minimise the drama they cause.
"Kids throw tantrums for many different reasons. Sometimes they need attention, sometimes they're tired, sometimes they're hungry. Sometimes they want to get things done and they can't get them done as quickly as we do, sometimes they are frustrated that they don't yet have the language to express how they are feeling –there are so many variables."
Demartini says there are many things you can do to try and minimise tantrums in the first place. "Try to assist your child to accomplish the things he wants, to lower his general levels of frustration; monitor his rest times so he is equipped to deal with what life throws at him, and give him lots of opportunities to make decisions so he doesn't feel so powerless. If you really try to find out what his unique needs are and help him to fulfill those in some appropriate way, he is probably less likely to explode."
Realistically, even if you do all these things, no child will ever be tantrum-free. If your little person does lose his cool in a big way, here's some things you can do:
● Be understanding – explain that you get what it's like to be frustrated. Attempt to understand what he is trying to say and how he is feeling.
● Be consistent in your communication – don't send mixed messages as it will confuse your child and make things worse.
● Be an example of how you'd like your child to behave – children learn much more from what we do than what we say.
● Try not to give in – you need to send the message that throwing a tantrum won't get your child what he wants.