When we see your toddler throwing an epic tantrum, don’t be embarrassed and don’t worry, we’re not judging you, we’re simply wishing you wine and silence. You might feel like a bad parent when you discover your toddler hitting and biting but it’s a completely normal part of development between the ages of two and three, even as young as 12 months and as late as four years. Rest assured, your child did not invent toddler tantrums! During this stage, we really have to put ourselves in a toddler’s shoes to help them deal with emotions that even some grown adults can find complex to deal with.
The cause of toddler tantrums
Up to about the age of three, toddler tantrums are the result of a child’s inability to communicate how they feel and therefore, they show their emotions through actions like biting, hitting and scratching.
Here’s how we are going to help your toddler change their behaviour and how you can implement the same at home.
How to stop toddler hitting and biting
1. Is there any underlying issue?
When a toddler bites, hits, scratches or throws things, it’s usually because they’re not getting what they want, whether that thing is reasonable or not. Firstly, we consider whether they are tired, worried, feeling unwell, hungry or stressed because it’s when they’re feeling one or more of these things that the behaviour is the worst. Addressing these issues most often resolves the tantrum behaviour.
2. Stay calm
It’s very important for a parent or educator to remain as calm as possible during a toddler tantrum. As overwhelming as it can be, we get down to their level, take a deep breath and help them use their words. If they lash out with biting, hitting or scratching behaviours, we hold their hands firmly yet gently and remind them that we do not hit/bite/pinch here.
3. Move to a private space
When a toddler becomes so overwhelmed by emotion, it can be embarrassing for them which is why we find it a good idea to take them into a private and calming space away from others where we can talk to them without distractions.
When a child feels powerless, it’s important to give them the space, opportunity and encouragement to use words to express how they are feeling.
5. Ask questions
20 to 30 minutes after the tantrum has died down, we find it beneficial to have a short chat with the toddler to see if they can explain how they are feeling. It’s often during this time, after the overwhelm has gone, that we discover the real reason for the outburst.
6. Stimulation and routine
Adequate stimulation is essential for toddler health and behaviour. We ensure there are always different engaging activities, lots of opportunities for play and a set routine. In the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Journal Daniels & Luthy (2012) support the need for having a routine as much as possible. It not only helps the child to know what to expect but also reduces the chance of tantrum because, as previously mentioned, tantrums are worse when children are tired or hungry. At Little Scholars, we have the Little Scholars App which gives parents an insight into their child’s day so they can continue on with the same eating and sleep routine at home.
Don’t let your toddler tantrums, toddler hitting or toddler biting hold your child back from attending childcare. We’re here to support your child’s development in every way we can, it’s all part of the parenting journey.