Taming the Tantrums
The Definition of a Toddler
Your once bouncing baby is now entering toddlerhood: welcome to your child’s new world. If you haven’t noticed already, your youngster is changing right before your eyes. While he’s probably the same snugly and affectionate child at times, he’s a single-minded, obstinate bear at others. He acts like an adolescent, and, yes, this is normal.
As a toddler, your child is blessed with long-life batteries and cursed with the need to drain them. He’s excited about his newfound abilities—he can run, jump, open, close, smash, and sort—and believes in lots of practice.
Emotionally, he’s very self-centered and demanding. He wants what he wants and he wants it now! Why not? You’ve just spent at least a year catering to his every need, thereby proving to him that he’s the most important guy on the planet. Why shouldn’t he still get what he wants now that he’s a little older?
Socially, he is enjoying a new sense of awareness of himself and others, and a new desire to be around other toddlers. Yet, he’s saddled with two limitations. He has no appreciation for what others feel, meaning he lacks empathy. This lack of empathy turns share into a four-letter word. From his perspective, if a toy looks appealing, it’s his for the taking.
Additionally, his brain is chock-full of ideas and emotions, and while he understands a lot of what is being said to him, his limited verbal skills restrict his communication. Alas, he can’t always get what he wants (his sister’s toy) and go where he wants (into a busy street) and can’t express what he feels, and the result is frustration. Absolute, intense frustration.
Since this frustration can’t yet be released through words, it comes out physically. And even if mentally he is aware that what he is about to do is wrong, he simply can’t help himself. At this stage, your toddler has no impulse control, feels out of control, and can’t stop to think through the consequences of what he’s about to do. He just does it. Bites. Kicks. Screams. Grabs. Even holds his breath until his face turns blue. He has to; he is a normal toddler.
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