Temper tantrums are enough to make any parent want to scream and bang her head against the wall. Some days, they seem to sneak up out of nowhere. Just when you think you are going to have a peaceful day, the screaming begins. Some may be over understandable frustrations, like having a toy taken by another child, and some begin because you’ve given your child the wrong sippy cup or because you gave your child exactly what he asked for. Whatever the reason, you’ll recognize the signs.
It’s hard to miss a temper tantrum when your child is making so much noise you’re worried the neighbors will call child services or that your ears will start bleeding. Screaming and yelling is a classic temper tantrum sign. It’s one of the hardest behaviors to ignore because you just want to give yourself a time-out. Temper tantrum screaming often gets progressively louder and toddlers may start to act out physically if they can’t calm down.
Before you became a parent, you might have seen images of children lying on the floor, pounding their fists and kicking. You might have thought, “Oh, I’ll never let my child act like that.” But, yes, it could happen to you. Kicking and stomping happen when a toddler’s frustration pools over the top. They don’t know how to express themselves adequately with words, and the strong emotions can be overwhelming, so they turn to physical action.
Breath holding may seem like benign behavior during a tantrum. After all, it’s quiet and she’ll have to breathe eventually, right? Well, as your child turns from red, to purple and starts to get blue, you might start to prefer the screaming version of your child. According to Medline Plus, some children start to hold their breath when they are infants and they may even pass out. This behavior can be a sign of something else, like an iron deficiency, even though it happens with a temper tantrum.
A doctor will do an exam to determine what is causing the breath holding episodes. Children that hold their breath may also do it when they are scared or intimidated by someone. This behavior is involuntary, so your child isn’t doing it on purpose.
It is impossible to avoid temper tantrums entirely. That doesn’t mean all is lost. You can watch for hints that your child is heading toward a temper tantrum and try to stop it before it happens. Toddlers are much more likely to have a temper tantrum if they are stressed, hungry or tired. For example, you’re having a play date and your child has to share his toys. You know how hard this is for him. He may start to get more and more frustrated. If you see his frustration level rising, you can try to redirect his attention elsewhere.
The art of distraction and redirection is the key to parenting young children. In general, keep your child busy with things that make him happy, and make sure he gets enough sleep and enough to eat.