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NAN: Tantrums

During the toddler years temper tantrums are age-appropriate occurrences.  Toddlers will often have tantrums because they can’t do something they want to do or can’t have something they want to have. Since toddlers can have a hard time processing their feelings and communicating their desires, they can become quickly overwhelmed and a tantrum will ensue.

For younger children, teaching baby sign language can help a non-verbal child communicate more effectively, which can reduce frustration and thus the occurrence of tantrums.  Nannies can also help a child to better process and communicate his feelings and desires by labeling feelings and modeling appropriate ways to express them. During the toddler years nannies may anticipate scenarios that are likely to trigger a tantrum, like leaving the park. By turning the activity trigger into a game the nanny may be able to help the child avoid having a tantrum. For example, to avoid a tantrum when leaving the park, the nanny could suggest that they play “I Spy” or “Follow the Leader” as they make their way out.

Other ways nannies can help to minimize tantrums is planning outings around the child’s schedule. Well-rested and well-fed children are better able to deal with frustration. Having a predictable routine and clear, consistent limits will also help as children are less likely to test limits and boundaries that they know are firm.  

If all else fails and a toddler has a tantrum, an effective strategy for handling a tantrum is placing the child in area where he can’t hurt himself or others and to ignore the tantrum.  This often means leaving the store and heading to the car where the child is out of view of others. The lack of an audience is often enough to stop the tantrum in its tracks.

While most caring caregivers will want to comfort a child having a tantrum, efforts to comfort a child during a tantrum will most often extend the tantrum and increase the intensity of it. Once a child stops having a tantrum, the nanny can more effectively engage the child. 

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Tantrums