When Are We ‘Giving In’ to Tantrums?

Question from Reader: “My child is 2. He has been throwing lots of temper tantrums. I wanted to ask, Shouldn’t we just ignore temper tantrums? I sometimes try to hold my kid but he refuses to be held. Sometimes the tantrums are about a reason I cant comprehend and sometimes its about going for a car ride or playing more outside. Do I give in or ignore these issues or just watch him cry which makes the situation worse. Also could you please tell me how and when to say no to my two year old. How to deal with temper tantrums he often cries unconsolably or lies on the floor in protest. My younger baby is nine months he hits him too, when he sees him crawling he sometimes randomly goes and pushes him. I don’t hit, scream less but I give in to threatening like I will not take him to places or hit. Which I feel is wrong”

Dear Reader,

I completely understand the worry of ‘giving in’. I think when we are addressing their emotional need this is perfectly acceptable AND helpful; going back on the limit you have set in order to quell the tantrum is what I would consider giving in. Follow through with your limit. Then offer support in a way that feels right for your child. Some children do need hugs and snuggles during a big emotional upset, like hugging it out. Some like my son, and possibly yours, do not want this and prefer space. I first ask my son if he’d like me to be by him and he usually says no if it is me he is mad at. So I let him know that I’m near and here for him right when he needs. So I’ll sit and wait and usually within a few minutes he has released the big feelings and comes back to me. So I think perhaps there is this fine line between ignoring and giving the space they need. If our child does not want our help, we don’t need to fix the tantrum but let them have their emotions and be nearby when they do want us. If this is challenging emotionally to hear their big voice and feel discomfort, say to yourself and even your child “It’s good to have emotions and to release them and I will give you the freedom to express yourself.”

Life is hard with 2. Sounds like you are doing a great job and I agree that the hitting and knocking over of the baby is not ok. So keep setting those limits to hitting and perhaps even offer up what he CAN do, like give toys or talk to the baby. Stay close when you notice the behavior and gently, physically stop the hitting and say “I won’t let your hit, you may do a or b instead”. Your 2 year old is testing you to see what behavior he can and cannot do.

Here are some additional links to help with tantrums and hitting:

Biting, Kicking, Hitting and Other Challenging Behavior

Coping With A Toddler’s Emotional Outbursts

Handling Strong Emotions

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