Toddlers are getting into the stage where they will start to throw temper tantrums, asserting their independence. I’m not a parent, just a daycare teacher, so I wouldn’t know of the embarrassment of temper tantrums in public. What I do know is that temper tantrums, and any other annoying acts that toddlers do, can really test your patience. So what do you do when you’re ready to snap and walk out the door?

Young children will need enough independence so that they will not feel the need to throw these temper tantrums and show their frustration and stubbornness. Remember to never give rewards to kids, just to make them stop, because this sends the message to the child that their tantrum worked and they got their way. When a child is throwing a temper tantrum, try to ignore it. Although this may be difficult to do, paying attention to them while they are doing this teaches them that tantrums are a way of getting attention. You need to be strong, and even though it will be tough, fight through it. You’re the adult in the situation; never give in, even if you’re in public. If it gets that bad, take your child out of the grocery store or wherever you may be, and let them scream and kick all they want in private. But never, ever offer rewards or bribes.

So you’ve reached your boiling point, you’ve really had enough and can’t stand it anymore. Now what do you do? Try to remain as calm as possible, because if a child senses you are frustrated and tense, that will only make the situation worse. Try to keep your voice low, and don’t scream and sound loud. If you work in daycare, ask for another teacher to stand in your room while you take a 5 minute breather. Take a deep breath; think about why you are upset with the child or children, count to 10. You may think that taking a deep breath and counting to 10 doesn’t work, but it really does.

Maybe it’s the child that needs to leave the room for a few minutes. Have somebody watch the rest of your room, while you ask the child to take a walk with you around the center. This solution usually works with the problems kids in my center, and by the time they return to their classroom, they have forgotten about their misbehavior and tantrums, and return a normal behaving child, if only for a while. Sometimes, misbehavior may be more than just testing you; it could possibly be a disorder that a physician needs to diagnose. If your child is repeatedly acting up, you may consider taking him or her to get some help.

After your short break, and when you return to the room, take out your negative energy and turn it into positive energy. When I’m frustrated at work, I turn on Mousercise (a Mickey exercise and song for kids) and exercise with the kids. It usually takes my mind off of why I was stressed out in the first place, and allows me to smile and think about why I work with kids in the first place; because it really is rewarding and fun to make a difference in a child’s life everyday.

According to a study done by Toddlers Today, over 1,000 kids died in 2000 as a result of child abuse and neglect. This number doesn’t include those children who have been abused emotionally. Don’t let your child become a statistic, take control of the situation and don’t let your stress take you over and possibly hurt your child. Remember, toddlers are learning about life and what they can get away with, you are their teacher and mentor. Give them the best example you can.

Sources – Toddlers Today from Texas Children’s Hospital – Article reviewed by Neil Izenberg, MD