How to identify toddler tantrums

Whether it’s your child or someone else’s, identifying the type of toddler prima donna you’re dealing with is half the battle. See if you can pin yours down…

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1 The sibling dictator

Do you constantly find yourself trying to make the peace between your little ones? “Some squabbling among siblings is healthy,” says Charlie Taylor, behavioural expert and author of Divas & Dictators. “They need to learn how to fall out and make up.” But if things get nasty you’ll need to step in.

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Tame him!

Think about how and why your children squabble. Don’t aim for total harmony – it’s unrealistic – pick one area to improve, like sharing toys, and you’ll probably find it has a knock-on effect in other areas.

When you’ve given him an agreed reward you might find him creating situations in order to get a treat, but don’t worry – this encourages teamwork. Eventually you can stop the rewards and rely on just praising. Have a simple, small consequence that you can use whenever he slips back into the old ways.

2 The diva playmate

What if your tot’s nursery pal comes over and her behaviour is a nightmare? Often it’s better to ignore low-level challenging behaviour as she’s not your problem, but if she’s being rude, upsetting your child or being unsafe, you have to take action.

Tame her!

Tell her your rules in a calm way, and praise her when she gets it right. And choose games carefully – if she can’t cope with losing, avoid competition. If she has lots of energy, take her to the park, or if she likes performing get out dressing-up clothes.

3 Day-out dictator

Meeting new people is an opportunity for your toddler to show you up by being rude. Says Charlie, “The example you set is of huge importance. Parents who speak to each other and their children politely will have well-mannered children.”

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Tame him!

A toddler can come across as rude, as he doesn’t fully understand how his behaviour affects others. But if you feel embarrassed when out, you’ve set standards too low. Tots can understand saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ by 2 years, but don’t deny him things if he forgets – turn it into a game where he gets praise if he does manage it.

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