Positive Discipline – How to handle toddler temper tantrums

Positive Parenting

Positive Discipline: How to handle temper tantrums and behavior problems in your toddler or older child.

Behavior problems are something all parents have to deal with at some time or another. Many children exhibit aggressive behavior and temper tantrums at a young age. Temper tantrums in 2 year olds and during the toddler years are most common. Tantrums, biting, kicking, screaming, and hair-pulling, are all behaviors that are increasingly popping up in children of all ages. Why? Read on to find out!

There are many causes for tantrums in toddlers and similar aggressive or violent behavior in older children but most parents don’t understand what the underlying real reasons are.

Many of us are searching for advice for disciplining a 2 year old and how to handle temper tantrums and don’t know where to turn for help. There is a wonderful positive parenting resource available at the Parent Learning Club. It features a wide range of articles about positive discipline and essential tools for parents of children with behavioral problems.

As a parent of three very energetic children I highly recommend their book, The Happy Child Guide. It clearly explains the reasons for a child’s misbehavior and tantrums and best of all what a parent can do to help. I only wish I had come across this guide years ago when the information shared could have helped me through some difficult times. I believe the Happy Child Guide can make a huge difference in the lives of families who make the time to understand toddler behavior and can prevent even bigger problems in later years. Take time to visit this Positive Parenting site, you’ll be thankful you did!

Underlying Reasons For Behavior Problems

Children are not naturally poorly behaved. If a child is acting out, having a tantrum or exhibiting aggressive behavioral problems, there are many underlying reasons for this. Behavior problems in children or toddlers typically stem from stress, unhappiness, as well as a host of psychological reasons. Children may throw temper tantrums because they need their parents’ attention and affection, or there may be a physiological need for the body to work through some type of stress and the resulting adrenaline build-up.

Contrary to what most parents think, the issue usually isn’t about the candy or toy that your child is throwing a temper tantrum about.

This misbehavior is usually a sign that there are other various stresses in their lives.   In the Happy Child Guide, it’s recommended to keep focused on the underlying reasons for the tantrum or other misbehavior and not to argue or fight with the child about why we believe they are upset (candy, toy, etc).

Here are some of the most common underlying needs and causes that are really behind a toddler or older child’s tantrums.

DIET: Diet may be one of the main causes for children to throw tantrums and have behavior problems. If your child frequently throws tantrums, it may be because of elevated sugar levels. Children who eat a lot of sugar are often more hyper, moody and can have surprising energy ups and downs. By eliminating sugar from your child’s diet, you can cut out a lot of the tantrums and challenging behavior. Even giving them too much juice can be a source of excessive fructose in their diet, raising their blood sugar.

In my personal experience I have seen an even worse reaction with corn syrup and products that contain this ingredient. My daughter had serious behavioral reactions to corn syrup and eventually it developed into an allergy and intolerance to any foods that contained it. (Hidden food allergies or chemical sensitivities can also cause behavioral and learning problems and are subjects worth researching) Check out the book from Dr. Doris Rapp entitled, “Is This Your Child’s World?” or visit the Feingold Association website.

A nutritionally deficient diet can also contribute to hyperactivity, misbehavior, temper tantrums, raging, and attention deficit disorder. Children who eat an unhealthy diet are also prone to having mood-swings and irritability. Children have high nutritional needs.

EXERCISE: One amazing thing about children is their high level of energy, so long as they are healthy. Children are like energizer bunnies in general, but children and toddlers who exhibit behavioral problems and tantrum throwing issues, may actually be indicating the need for more physical activity and exercise.

Too many children today just sit in front of the TV and are overly sedentary. Try limiting the amount of TV time for your children and see the improvement in their behavior. The best part is that when you turn off the TV kids will eventually start running, jumping and playing. And if you don’t want them jumping on the furniture, then your child needs to be taken outside, or to park. (or get a small indoor trampoline/rebounder to give them an outlet for their energy and need to bounce, these work GREAT)

SLEEP: Cranky kids who don’t get enough sleep will stay cranky, whiny and test your patience until they get more rest. Other than a nap, children from ages 1-7 should be getting 12-14 hours of sleep per night. After that, 10 hours a night is the norm. Studies also show that children who normally have behavioral problems are also tough to put to bed. (we used a bedtime ritual of a warm bath, lavender aromatherapy, and a bedtime story each night to help them relax) So ignore the tantrum, be consistent with your nightly routine, and eventually sleeping more will improve your child’s mood.

TELEVISION: All kids are mesmerized by television. Just as their parents usually are. The problem with television is that it usually exposes your child to a lot of inappropriate ideas that can lead to misbehavior. If you watch a lot of the kids shows, you’ll see that much of the programming is showing child-like heroes who either fight a stronger enemy or rebel against an authority. Some even show characters defying their parents.

Is it any wonder children who watch this will try out these same behaviors?

Children are like open vessels. They absorb, learn and act out all that they absorb and learn. Many childrens television shows have a lot of violence in them. Limit their time in front of the television and encourage them to experience more productive and creative play. Activities such as coloring or painting might also teach your children a new and creative way to stimulate your child’s expression and hand-eye coordination.

SET AN EXAMPLE: Do you often lose your patience? Do you sometimes yell at the children or other family members? What your children see you do they will copy. If you raise your voice, so will they. Whatever behavioral issues you have, your child will pick up.

RESPECT YOUR CHILD: This seems like common sense. However, many parents lose their patience when their child routinely engages in throwing tantrums, defying, or ignoring you, or showing many other behavior problems. When you treat your child like a troublemaker, they will act like one. So make sure you don’t react to their misbehavior from a place of impatience, and disrespect yourself.

FREE presentation on how to handle temper tantrums and getting your child to listen and cooperate without putting up a fuss.

In this free presentation you’ll learn 4 powerful keys to effective discipline that can help with these: tantrums in toddlers, oppositional defiant disorder, disciplining a 2 year old,  terrible twos, child biting, child behavior, behavior problems, anger management for children, bad behavior, child discipline, behavior modification, baby tantrums, child temper tantrums, why kids throw tantrums, how to stop a temper tantrum, and much more…

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