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Toddler Tantrums & Anger: Why you’re not alone and how to cope with them.

Is your toddler angry? Why you’re not alone.

Many things can make your toddler angry. This post seeks to offer support to show you really are not alone. Please read through and share your own tips and advice in the comments section at the end of the post. I hope that you’ll find something of use from this article that at least explains what makes a toddler angry.

First off, I’d like to let you all know that I’ve been an Early Years teacher for nearly 15 years. If you’re thinking that this means I have all the answers to raising a child, think again. Teachers, doctors, psychologists, basically everyone has the potential to have tantrums to deal with.

Every child is an amazing mass of uniqueness. The events and experiences they get in their early lives can shape their nature and personality in immense ways. But no matter what a child’s background or upbringing, all parents can be tested when their child reaches a certain age and developmental point. Before you start worrying, rest assured that tantrums are common. At least that’s what Mrs Savvy and I keep telling ourselves when Little Savvy decides it’s time to have a “moment”.

What makes a toddler angry and prone to tantrums?

Simply put, when a child reaches the age of 24-48 months, they may be more likely to get angry. That time frame is approximate and some may develop slower or faster. Essentially when a child enters this age zone, the development at the front of their brain in the prefrontal cortex is immense. The human brain develops significantly here to learn language, cause and effect and the main rules by which it will work.

It makes sense really if you think that the only real way to learn something is to make mistakes first. The errors, tantrums, shouting, kicking, throwing are all going to occur when testing boundaries in a toddlers learning world. It doesn’t make it any easier to be on the receiving end of a tantrum, but it should console you to know it is in the vast majority of cases normal.

Never feel you need to apologise to neighbours, the public or others. But expect at least one person in the world to feel they can parent your child better, ignore them completely. Ignore them because what often makes a toddler angry is not the style of parenting, but the fact children at that age are physically programmed to throw a wobbler. You can’t stop them, however you may be able to work around them. Please note that when I say working around them, I do not mean giving in to demands of a toddler.

Pre-schoolers and Reception Children: My teaching perspective.

Bear in mind that all children will naturally move through this developmental stage, some quickly, others more painfully slowly. However, there are also environmental factors that will help and hinder. Children starting pre-schools will pick up bugs, be more tired and learn both positive and negative behaviours from their peers. Similarly, children starting their first school year in a reception class will be completely and utterly shattered by the end of the long autumn term, not to mention some being completely hyped by Christmas events.

Cortisol levels in a child starting school are usually off the chart, and remember they can’t always understand or rationalise the new things they’re learning straight away. Interestingly, cortisol levels are also high in stressed exam students in Year 6 too, so sorry you can probably expect moments when they’re older too. You’ll be a pro by then though.

Learn if possible to use your own emotional intelligence. It’s not easy, I’ve struggled to distance myself at times and somehow been outwitted and prompted into reacting by Little Savvy’s behaviours. Be objective, even when you’re running late to get out of the house, and consider your options. I’ve honestly started thinking about it as a game of chess; that being said Little Savvy did beat me at draughts last week. Hmm.

The Furious Four; Frustration and Attention

These are the most often talked about types of issues which might help you to preempt and issue and head it off at the pass.

  • FRUSTRATION – Whether putting on trousers, solving a puzzle or even getting something incorrect frustration can be a leading cause of an outburst. A sock can’t answer back when it’s being stubborn. But a toddler can reach out loudly when still learning to cope with this; why do you think velcro school shoes appeared! Velcro hasn’t solved the issue though, but it may delay until a time when the child is ready to sit down and learn how to tie laces. Whatever the frustration I highly suggest modelling what you would do to solve it, but NOT doing it for them. Again, learning and developing is about trial and error.
  • ATTENTION – Yep, you’re so popular that your little one simply has to have your response and attention 24/7. Whether it’s throwing things around, breaking things, or throwing their head back with oscar-winning tears, they need to have degrees of attention. Where possible ignore the behaviour and distract. If it’s more full on, say you’ll talk to them when they’re calm and ready to talk to you nicely. Often they just need time to cycle through to the realisation that what they’re doing isn’t getting a rise out of you.

The Furious Four; Power and Over Stimulation

  • POWER – You’ve said “No” to something. Oh, dear the fireworks have started within seconds. There will usually be triggers for this getting addicted to a favourite TV show, breaking a chocolate addiction after Christmas. You’ll know the familiar things that make your toddler angry when they don’t get it. Again, there’s no perfect solution but often breaking a situation into “choices” will allow a way out that seems reasonable. For example, a choice of TWO things can make them see it as their decision.
  • OVER STIMULATION – This can occur when overwhelmed, tired or simply hungry. Often giving in to this one is the best way. If they’re tired put them to bed for a nap. If they’re hungry then feed them, and so on.

Right at the beginning I said you’re not alone. You never will be, it’s a constant battle that will baffle new and experienced parents alike. But this article may give you some insight into “Why they’re doing that!”

Good luck and if you find any magic answers and techniques, make sure I’m the first to know.

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