As the parent of a toddler, the one behavior you probably dread more than any other is the temper tantrum. The volume levels of some temper tantrums would give a heavy metal band a run for its money and leave you running for a pair of ear plugs. As difficult as a temper tantrum can be to handle, it is even more frustrating when it seems your child is kicking, screaming and crying for no reason at all. The reality is that a child does not throw a temper tantrum without some sort of trigger. Sometimes the cause may be something extremely subtle or even unexpected.
If your toddler starts throwing a temper tantrum for no apparent reason, consider what his day has been like thus far. Has he been busier than usual? Did he wake up earlier than he typically does or stay up past his bedtime the night before? A tired child is more prone to temper tantrums than one who is well rested, and a nap may be in order.
A hungry child is more likely to be grumpy than one who is not hungry. The last thing a parent wants to do is take a hungry child into a grocery store because doing this is asking for a world-class meltdown. A child’s hunger level can vary, and what may satisfy her one day may not be enough food the next. If a child is going through a growth spurt, she is going to be hungrier than normal and will need extra snacks to boost her calories. If a child is having a temper tantrum and you have no idea why, offer her a healthy snack. If she calms down when given an apple or some grapes, hunger may be the culprit.
Resistance to Change
Some toddlers are more resistant to change than others. If your child turns into a screaming banshee the instant his routine varies in the slightest, then the discomfort he feels when change is happening is causing him to act out. You may think he is being naughty because he doesn’t want to go to the grocery store or the doctor’s office, when the reality is that it is not the place he is going. What is bothering him is the fact that the activity is not one that is a normal part of his everyday routine. Gentle repeated warnings of the change in routine may help prevent tantrums, or at least decrease the severity of tantrums in kids who hate change. Try taking along a favorite toy to distract and comfort your child in unfamiliar surroundings.
If your child throws a lot of temper tantrums and you have no idea why she is screaming, you may need to take an honest look at her verbal skills. All parents like to think their child is perfect, and each child is in her own way. It is important to remember that even though your child is perfect in your eyes, there may be developmental issues that you don’t want to see. If your child does not seem as verbal as other kids her age and if her expressive language is limited, she may have a speech delay that requires intervention. Kids with speech issues have temper tantrums because they cannot say what they want or need to and cannot get their message across. The frustration they feel when this happens is immense, hence the tantrums.
As a parent, you know what it feels like to be stressed out. It is not comfortable and you probably feel like throwing a temper tantrum yourself sometimes. Kids feel stress, too, and can pick up on the stress of those around them. If your child is throwing temper tantrums for no apparent reason, take a look at what is going on in the home. Are you and his father fighting a lot or are you in the midst of a divorce? Has someone in the home lost a job or are you struggling financially? Has someone your child loves become ill or died? Have you recently had a baby? Any of these situations have the potential to make a child feel anxious, fearful, guilty, frustrated or angry. If your child seems to be throwing stress-related tantrums, try decreasing the overall stress levels in the home. Kids shouldn’t have to deal with grown-up stuff, even if grown ups have to.