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Dealing with Temper Tantrums

Dealing with Temper Tantrums

This article was featured in Mother and Child magazine in English and Arabic

Almost every parent has been in this situation: you’re at the supermarket or a public place and your toddler or 3 year old is screaming and kicking on the floor! You’re wondering what happened and how do I handle this?? Most parents either resort to threatening their child to start behaving properly or they pick him up and rush out, but how effective are these methods and how long does the effect last? What is the most effective way to handling your toddler’s tantrum?

Reasons for Tantrums

First of all, handling a tantrum happens way before it actually happens. To start with, you must make sure your child’s basic needs are being met. A hungry or tired child is more likely to be more irritable than an energetic and satisfied one.

Next is understanding why your child is having a tantrum. At this age your child is having trouble controlling her impulses, she is also going through a phase where she is developing her sense of autonomy and physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive abilities. This can sometimes be hard to handle and overwhelming. She may feel a need to do things on her own but her body isn’t developed yet to support that. For example, putting on shoes or expressing herself verbally. These situations can be frustrating due to an inability to identify her feelings and express herself.

You should also keep in mind that lack of impulse control can play a huge factor in your child’s ability to control herself. The areas in the brain responsible for inhibitory skills as impulse control and delaying gratification (when your child persists to want the cookie NOW!) matures more slowly than other parts of the brain. By age 2, it’s development has started but won’t be well developed till about age 7.

Another reason for having a tantrum may be using it as a way to get attention. Reflect on your parenting strategy to decide this; do you respond positively when your child is not misbehaving? do you spend a significant amount of time correcting misbehavior? If so, your child may have learnt to get your attention through misbehavior.

Your child at this age is still developing the ability to share and negotiate. That’s why he may also resort to tantrums if he is refused something or another child is refusing to share or give a toy.

What You Can Do to Avoid Tantrums

With just a bit of forward thinking you can help your child avoid tantrums.

Make sure you provide an appropriate environment for your child; make sure your setting is child-friendly or bring along entertainment for your child (a simple box of crayons would do), check if your child will miss a meal or nap time while your out and make sure to provide an alternative. If you are going shopping, involve your child in finding items or counting them.

Foster your child’s autonomy and independence by giving choices and offer control. You can give choices in everyday situations like getting dressed, eating or bath time. Limit the options to two or three to avoid overwhelming your child. Also, try to avoid “Yes/No” choices. Instead, offer options like “will you wear your green or red t-shirt?” or “will you have your bath now or after dinner?”.  

You can offer your child a feeling of control by letting her do things for herself; let her try to put her shoes on or try to feed herself. Remember to respect your child when you try to help. She will be more willing to accept your help if you ask “do you need help?” instead of rushing in silently and taking over what she is doing.

Realize your child’s developmental abilities to control his impulse and try to avoid temptations that may cause conflict. Remember that when your child feels overwhelmed comfort is more effective than correction.

Try to avoid confusing a real need for comfort with a way to get your attention. Only you as a parent can know your child well enough to identify when she is truly in distress or not. To avoid negative attention you can focus your attention on your child’s positive actions, try to minimize when you say “No” and use it only for few and important situations like standing on the sofa or touching the oven and ultimately ignore unwanted behavior if you realize it’s your child’s way of getting your attention (as long as your child is in a safe setting).

You can help your child identify feelings and express herself by using everyday situations to label feelings. When your child is crying or laughing use these as opportunities to point out and label how she’s feeling, just by saying “I know you feel sad” you are giving your child the words to identify how she feels. A great way to learn about feelings is singing.

At this age your child hasn’t developed the ability to share yet. Try to realize your child’s developmental abilities, most children develop this ability at around age 3. Don’t expect your 18 month old to share!  By giving your child a secure and predictable environment you can help foster skills like sharing. Be consistent and follow through. By saying “you’ll get your turn” and consistently following through, your child learns to trust you, develops an ability to delay gratification and learns turn taking.

How to Handle a Tantrum?

So a tantrum was unavoidable, that’s O.K! Remember that your child is a person with feelings that can become overwhelming sometimes.At this moment he needs support and comfort delivered in a positive way.

  • First, start with your self: As long as your child is safe, give your self a couple of seconds to look at the situation and approach it calmly. Remember to stay calm, you will really see the difference in your child’s response.
  • Give comfort and love: hold your child and speak to her calmly and slowly. Tell her you understand she is feeling sad.
  • Redirect her: Once you get her attention, try to calmly divert her to something else. Remember to stay calm and avoid being nervous or anxious.
  • “Time-out”: If your child is still feeling frustrated, removing her from the situation may help. Take her to a calmer area and redirect her to a quiet activity like singing or reading a story. Once your child is calm you can bring her back to the play area.
  • Ignore: Remember that some tantrums are ways of getting attention negatively. Try to ignore this type of behavior. By ignoring you are showing your child that this is not the way to get your attention. Remember to give attention to positive behavior, that way you show your child an alternative.
I hope you find this article practical and useful. 🙂 For some more information on temper tantrums go here.

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Recycling Fun

Recycling Fun

Recycling isn’t just about separating your garbage or exchanging your plastic bottles for a few cents. Recycling can be fun and creative for both adults and children! Artists and designers  have created some incredible pieces of work using recycled material.
You can also introduce your child to the fun aspects of recycling by turning an everyday item into something imaginative and creative.

Try turning a plastic bottle into a bird feeder or a boat! Here is a great idea to turn your milk bottles into planters.

Make puppets out of paper bags or use them to make these wonderful trees

Egg cartons make great bugs! You can also use this great transportation theme from “Getting Messy with Miss Jessy

Also, check out these fun toilet roll ideas here and here!


Recycling isn’t just about making crafts, you can also make music. Try this creative outdoor music idea with your old pots and pans. Check out more recycled outdoor music ideas here!

You can use almost anything in your home to make one of these great Water Wall ideas. Check out ideas here and here.

You can find more great recycling craft ideas to do with your little on here.

For more inspiration check out what great Christmas trees cans and bottles can make and how some artists make sculptures out of old toys!

Reading to your Child about Recycling

Here are a few books about recycling for children ages birth-5. Get your child into recycling early on! 🙂

Don’t Throw That Away! A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing 

“Follow an eco-conscious super hero as he teaches kids how to recycle and reuse common household items! The six large flaps throughout show that oridinary trash is really a treasure. From turning old clothes into fun costumes or an old box into a brand new car, kids will learn that saving the environment is super cool!”

Choose to Recycle! A Green Touch and Feel Book 

“A soup can becomes part of a new bicycle. A tire becomes a new ball. A bottle becomes a new goldfish bowl. In this die-cut, touch & feel book, recycling helps to create neat new things! This is a fun and simple introduction to one of the three R’s of conservation: reduce reuse RECYCLE. Reading to make a difference in the world. Hardcover book with touch-and-feel areas and die-cuts that reveal new images.”

Why Should I Recycle? 

“What if everybody threw away old bottles and newspapers, littering the world with glass and plastic and tin cans that should be recycled and made into new products? Mr. Jones is a teacher who sets a good example for kids by separating his trash for recycling. When he takes them on a class trip to a recycling plant they learn the value of recycling. Part of every child’s development involves asking questions. Today, some of the most important questions kids ask are related to the natural environment. The enlightening and entertaining four-book Why Should I? series demonstrates the importance of protecting nature. Books present brief, entertaining stories that answer children’s questions and feature amusing color illustrations on every page. A note at the back of each book is for parents and teachers, suggesting ways to use these books most effectively.”

Your Parenting Style Matters

Your Parenting Style Matters

This article was featured on SuperMama

Parents have different parenting styles, some are strict, others are easy going and some seem like they just let their kids run wild. Which of these ways is the “right” one? Well, to help you decide you have to think about what fits you as a parent, as a family and what fits your child’s temperament.

Baumrind established 3 basic parenting styles and studied what their effects on children could be.

The Authoritarian Parent
also called strict is grounded in traditional ways of child raising. Parents expect immediate obedience from children in almost all behavior. Physical punishment like spanking is used as a way to obtain obedience and cooperation from children instead of negotiation. Parents usually have many nonnegotiable rules and often respond to their child's question with "Because I said so!" 
  • Possible Effects of this style of parenting include children being less socially competent as parents generally tell the child what to do instead of thinking for herself. As a result, children are not encouraged to think critically but rather look to their parents for approval and solution. Miller‘s research has shown that this type of parenting doesn’t promote healthy feelings of self-worth since parents rely on intimidation and negative criticism as ways for gaining wanted behavior. Since physical punishment is an acceptable way of disciplining, this parenting style may also damage a child’s self-esteem and encourage violence as a way to solve problems. These effects will most likely stay with your child onto adulthood. Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that researchers have found that aspects of authoritarian style in some ethnic cultures may be associated with more positive child outcomes than Baumrind expects.
The Permissive Parent 
also called the indulgent or easy parent doesn't insist on rules and behavior. This parent doesn't see herself as an authority figure but rather as a resource for her child to learn about the world and gain a sense of independence. Children are left to their own experiences and their consequences to guide them on how to act in the future. Parents are accepting of their children, do not require socially appropriate behavior from their children and they tend to avoid or ignore obnoxious behavior
  • Possible effects are that children will not behave as socially appropriate. Baumrind also found that the least self-reliant, curios and self-controlled children are parented using this style. Children of easy parents may be more impulsive, and as teenagers more prone to engaging in misconduct and drug use.
The Neglectful Parent 
is also known as the uninvolved parent. The parents are low in warmth as well as in control, are usually not involved in their child's life and do not set limits for their children. Neglectful parenting can also refer to dismissing a child's emotions and opinions as well as being unsupportive of their child's basic needs (food, housing and toiletries). 
  • Possible effects include children seeming mature beyond their years in an attempt to provide for themselves and halt depending on their parents. Children may also become emotionally withdrawn from social situations and view that other aspect’s of their parents’ lives are more important than they are. These attachments problems may very well impact relationships in adulthood as well as disruptive and delinquent patterns in the teenage years.
The Authoritative Parent 
This approach combines the best of authoritarian and permissive approaches. It is a child centered approach that holds high expectations of the child's maturity. Being an authoritative parents means fostering the development of your child's independence but within reasonable limits. Parents participate in democratic verbal give and take as well as setting few clear rules. They are attentive of their child's needs, expect age-appropriate behavior and  aim at understanding their child's feelings and teach them how to regulate them. Authoritative parents help their children solve problems, they typically resort more to setting limits and teaching but may resort to punishment in which case they will explain their motives for punishment. This is the most recommended style of parenting by child-rearing experts.
  • Possible effects according to Baurmind are children who are self-reliant, self-controlled, content and curios about learning and exploring their environment. Because children know what is expected of them when parents set few clear rules, they feel secure and safe to explore their world within those limits. This approach also encourages success in school life, higher self-esteem, a healthy sense of independence and a positive work attitude since it promotes independence, negotiation and positive communication between parent and child. This method also seems to have the most positive results during the teenage years since it grants them freedom and a sense of independence and expression while maintaining clear family rules. It also fosters a respectful relationship between parent and child by having positive communication, negotiation and involvement in family rules and decision-making.
I hope this helps you to reflect on yourself and family and decide which parent you are and which one would you like to be             🙂

Read More On.. 

Listening to Your Child

Raising a Secure Child

Communicating with Your Child

Photo from Allaboutmotherhood