Por Lewis Iván Núñez Alcántara
Psychologist, thanatologist, coach, and specialist in Existential Analysis and Logotherapy training. Tantrum specialist.
Tantrums are common and expected behaviors as part of the development of girls and boys; they usually manifest themselves in the first four years of life and are related to the difficulty children find in expressing their feelings and emotions: something that hurts them, that scares them, that makes them feel sad, angry or frustrated.
Tantrums are the clear signal that it is time to start teaching them how to self-regulate because they do not know how to do it independently. You can help them and accompany them to understand what they feel and the appropriate ways to express it. The most important, but also the most difficult, is that you remain calm.
We share some of the most common situations in which girls and boys throw tantrums, as well as tips that can help you:
1. Learn to follow the rules and limits
Tip: Girls and boys behave better when they keep in mind the limits to be respected and the conditions of their activities. Make an effort to establish limits and rules according to their age and accompany them so that they learn to follow them.
2. Interruption in their activities or changes in their daily routines
Tip: Girls and boys need to have routines that support the development of their habits, this means, their emotional balance. Letting them know in advance that they will change activities will avoid surprises and bad times for both of you. In case you cannot anticipate these changes, you can always use strategies such as dialogue, distraction, and play to introduce them in the next activity.
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3. Learn to share with others
Tip: Keep in mind that this attitude is learned through trial and error and time will be your best ally; therefore, it is necessary to arm yourself with great patience to guide them little by little through dialogue, examples or stories where they are participants, to the practice of how they can share with others through kindness and words like “please” and “thank you”, applying it to personal belongings, food and activities.
4. Difficulty at controlling your feelings and emotions before mealtime
Tip: In case of any delay in your feeding schedule, we suggest you have snacks to avoid feelings of discomfort due to hunger.
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5. Due to tiredness, they may get upset more easily and react to minor stimuli
Tip: If there will be days with a lot of activity, we suggest that you consider times or moments so that they can take a nap or have a brief relaxation space to avoid tantrums. In cases of hunger and fatigue, it can be a little more difficult to contain a tantrum, since discomfort is a physical sensation that they cannot ignore.
When you feel confronted by a tantrum, it can be very easy to lose control and react in a way that makes it more complicated. The key point to make them happen with less intensity and frequency is to stay attentive to the needs of girls and boys because in this way you will learn to identify the moments in which a tantrum may occur and possibly you can “get ahead” or do something to avoid or reduce it.
* Guardianes is a program of Afectividad y Sexualidad AC, which is dedicated to seeking the best interests of children and adolescents, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Our organization has, since 2017, with the Special Consultative Status granted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Throughout its 19-year history, it has collaborated with civil society organizations in defense of the rights of children and adolescents, focusing its efforts on the prevention of mistreatment and child sexual abuse www.guardianes.org. mx
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara