When Kaley moved up to the two-year-old room, she was extremely emotional and would have tantrums. Her teacher, Naomi, noticed that Kaley had difficulty responding and following directions. At first, her teacher thought these were typical 2-year-old behaviors and she would be fine later on. Kaley’s tantrums, however, became worse every day.
Naomi says, “I began to realize that her behaviors might be the cause of her lack of speech. I decided to do my own research, and I found online resources to help increase Kaley’s positive behaviors. I started working with her one-on-one. Most of the time I ignored her tantrums, and when she calmed down I was able to re-direct her and give her praise for positive behaviors. I normally pass out stickers after circle time as a method of rewarding children. She loves stickers so I encouraged her every day to participate at circle time in order to get a sticker. I noticed her trying her best in circle time and her learning increasing rapidly.”
Naomi continues, “I discovered that at home Kaley was rewarded to stop the crying and tantrums–not for positive behavior. Now at school, I allow her to make good choices and praise her after she achieves something. After working with her one-on-one the past few months, I have seen many improvements in her behaviors. Her parents have as well. She is now enjoying every class activity and having less difficulty in transitioning. I also noticed progress in her speech. She uses many more words to communicate than before. As a teacher, I am very happy about her progress in every developmental area. Kaley’s self-control has improved considerably, rather than crying and showing tantrums.”
–Ms. Naomi, Kaley’s Teacher
Do young children have tantrums on purpose?
We can learn many things from Kaley’s tantrums and Ms. Naomi’s wise response to them. Generally, toddlers have tantrums as a way to express frustration. However, if parents reward tantrums with something that their child wants–as was the case with Kaley–tantrums are likely to continue.
6 Steps to Prevent Tantrums from the Mayo Clinic
There might be no foolproof way to prevent tantrums, but there are many ways to encourage good behavior in even the youngest children.
- Be consistent. Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. Stick to the routine as much as possible, including naptime and bedtime.
- Plan ahead. Run errands when your child is not likely to be hungry or tired. If you expect to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.
- Encourage your child to use words. Young children understand many more words than they’re able to express. If your child isn’t yet speaking — or speaking clearly — teach him or her sign language for words such as “I want,” “more,” “drink,” “hurt” and “tired.” As your child gets older, help him or her put feelings into words.
- Let your child make choices. Avoid saying “no” to everything. To give your toddler a sense of control, let him or her make choices. “Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?”
- Praise good behavior. Offer extra attention when your child behaves well. Give your child a hug or tell your child how proud you are when he or she shares or follows directions.
- Avoid situations likely to trigger tantrums. Don’t give your child toys that are far too advanced for him or her. If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, try to avoid areas with these temptations. If your toddler acts up in restaurants, choose places that offer quick service.
Mayo Clinic Staff, (2018, Aug. 8). Temper tantrums in toddlers: How to keep the peace. Mayo Clinic [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/tantrum/art-20047845