Tantrums seem to reach their peak around the age of two when the child is beginning to assert its own independence – hence the “terrible twos”. Toddlers who have a lot of tantrums are usually lively children, and may be very intelligent and have a strong desire to extend their horizons to things that are still beyond them. It is important to be aware that a child who has a tantrum is a child whose frustration has gone beyond the limits of their tolerance and the child can no longer help their behaviour.
A tantrum is as frightening for a child as it is unpleasant for you. The best way to deal with tantrums is to prevent them by organising the child’s life so that frustration is at a minimum. If a child is having a tantrum, it is pointless to try to remonstrate or argue – the child is not capable of any rational response. Try to prevent the child from getting hurt or causing damage by holding them gently but firmly on the floor. As the child calms down, they will usually find comfort in your being there.
A child should neither be rewarded nor punished for a tantrum. If the tantrum was because you wouldn’t let them go out to play, don’t change your mind once the tantrum has taken place. On the other hand, if you were about to go for a drive in the car, continue with your plans once the tantrum has ended. As the child gets bigger, stronger and feels more confident in its ability to cope with life, the tantrums will usually come to an end.
One of the most frightening forms of tantrum (for parents) is the young baby who holds its breath, possibly until it turns blue and even loses consciousness for a brief period. Older children sometimes bang their heads on the ground or the sides of their cot. Despite their obvious unpleasantness for parents, these forms of behaviour do not seem to cause any harm, although a parent worried about some serious abnormality shouldn’t hesitate to consult a doctor.