Authored by: Nichole Merz, Developmental Specialist
Did you know tantrums are a form of communication?
Communication comes in many forms through both words and actions. During the holidays lack of sleep or over stimulation may cause your child to communicate feelings through a tantrum. Developmental Specialists who provide teli Early Intervention services often suggest parents try to understand the “why” behind their child’s tantrum. A tantrum is a way of communicating for children who may have difficulty expressing themselves. They are substituting emotional reactions to a situation when they don’t have the words. But how do you help them learn how to use words? Read on!
What causes my child’s tantrums?
Tantrums are a very normal behavior for children and can the result of a number of factors such as:
- Lack of sleep because they didn’t take their afternoon nap
- Hunger since it is 2:00pm and you have missed lunch
- Illness due to an ear infection
- Overstimulation by their surroundings such as when a visit to the grocery store may be overwhelming
In each of the occasions above, an adult can communicate their needs and control their surroundings or situations. However a toddler or a young child has little control and often just can’t seem to find the words… thus the meltdown!
What can I do when my child is having a tantrum?
Since the cause of the tantrum may be related to an inability to express themselves, helping a child to find the words to describe how they are feeling in very simplistic terms is important. Saying something like “Show Mommy what you would like” can lead you to the source of their frustration. It is important to help them understand that they can express themselves through appropriate words and to encourage the child to discover those words which may help diffuse the tantrum.
Additionally, teli Developmental Specialists have had good success having children and parents “short circuit” potential tantrums by working with the child to begin to build coping skills such as:
- clarifying needs with your child by using short and simple words
- establishing “a calm down” area in your home
- setting a timer to set limits that the child can understand for particular activities
It is important to note that not all children are the same and parents will need to experiment with their children to understand what works best. Tough as it is, parents must resist just giving in to the demands of their child because that inappropriate behavior that may cause even bigger issues later.
When should I be concerned about my child’s tantrums?
A parent should be concerned if the tantrums are happening frequently such as more than 3 times per day for extended period of time such as an hour or more. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and ask about a referral for services such as Early Intervention. Helping families get to the bottom of the real reason that a child’s tantrum may be occurring is where teli’s Early Intervention experience can be helpful. Early Intervention can provide strategies to help parents identify the appropriate ways to help their child learn to cope, as well as learning to avoid some of the triggers will be the steps to helping to reduce a child’s frustration.
Is there something that works with your child when you see a meltdown coming? Share your suggestion on Facebook along with this article. You may just get some valuable ideas in return!
Learn more about Early Intervention Services at teli!