Q&A: How can I control my two-year-old's uncontrollable tantrums?
My two-year-old has mini tantrums when she does not get her own way. She will throw herself on the ground and escalate to the point where she will hit her head on the ground hurting herself and then crying that she has a boo-boo. How do we stop her from hurting herself and her actions escalating into full blown uncontrollable tantrums?
Two-year-olds and tantrums often go together, but there are some ways to keep tantrums in check.
The first thing to remember is that they are born of frustration, which is a normal part of being two, but times of fatigue, illness, stress, and hunger are particularly vulnerable ones. Tantrums can sometimes be pre-empted by simple measures like bringing snacks on outings and avoiding missed naps.
The next thing to know is that any behavior in your child that gets your attention, positive or negative, will be reinforced and more likely to recur. So the best way to react is by barely reacting at all. Make sure she is safe (but significant injury during a tantrum is quite rare), then ignore the outburst. When it subsides, give her a hug, praise her for calming down and move on.
If ignoring the tantrum isn’t possible, because you are in public, for example, quietly take her aside, but, again, focus as little attention on the tantrum as possible. Over time, you can teach her other ways of coping with frustration, especially as her ability to express herself with words improves.