Temper Tantrums

Expert Advice

Oh the ‘terrible twos’!  It can be a tricky time for parents, so we asked Shona of Blue House International how best to navigate temper tantrums. 

Why do kids have tantrums?
Children have tantrums as a way to express themselves. A toddler’s world is one of frustration and with limited verbal skills they express their frustrations typically through screaming, shouting, crying, kicking, often whilst laying on the floor.

 When should you expect tantrums?
Typically parents dread the arrival of the ‘ terrible twos’ and in my experience tantrums can start much earlier at around 14-15 months. Between the ages of 1-3 years old, children are at a stage of their development where they are naturally curious. They become frustrated at every turn when their investigations are thwarted by adults telling them ” no, don’t touch!” Children are also physically wanting to achieve more than their bodies will allow – have you ever noticed how toddlers like to try and push heavy objects, or carry so many things around at one time but they keep dropping them?

What can you do to avoid them?
Temper tantrums are a normal stage of any child’s development and parents should not try to avoid them. If a child doesn’t have tantrums during this period (because their parents choose to always give into them for an easy and quiet life), their child will have missed out on some important life skills and lessons. You’ll then see the child having tantrums at the age of 6-8 years instead because they can’t get what they want!

Phew! That’s good news. Can we reduce their frequency though?
Yes, if parents and care-givers work together to provide a consistent environment for the child. Kids need routine and consistent care and expectations, sprinkled with generous amounts of understanding and love during this time. Try to provide other outlets for your child’s emotions too. Some children benefit greatly from quieter, sensory play with dough, water, paint, or goop- while others like to run and climb through their emotions.

When should they stop?
In my experience, if this stage of development has been handled well,  tantrums should become less frequent by the time the child is 3 years old. Of course this will be determined by lots of other factors; for example, children can regress during times of emotional upheaval,  e.g. new baby, moving house, new school etc. and parents need to be aware of possible triggers.

When should you seek help?
Seek help if you can before you reach this stage – it’s always good to know what to expect. If parents are in the midst of the ‘terrible two’ stage then I am happy to help and give advice on strategies and positive forms of parenting. If children are still having several tantrums a day by the age of three, then definitely reach out for advice.

With over 18 years of experience, Shona is avaliable for one-on-one coaching or a group parenting session to chat through many of the parenting worries the toddler years bring. If your Mothers’ group is facing the same concerns, why not give her a call and have her coach you all through it together? Shona can be reached at shonasanosi@bluehouseinternational.com.

This article was sponsored by Blue House International.