The Temper Tantrum Explained
At its very root a temper tantrum is rooted in your toddler’s inability to communicate his needs and wants. At age two their understanding of the world that surrounding often surpasses their verbal ability to convey their needs or complete a task through imitation that he or she perceives as achievable. Thankfully, their motor and verbal skills will most likely catch up by the time they are three to four years old, significantly reducing the symptoms of the terrible twos. But what is a parent to do in the interim?
Take Control & Give Control
Dealing with a temper tantrum can be utterly overwhelming whether you are a first-time parent or a veteran. Even when you are tired it is essential that you remember that YOU are in control. Do not be indifferent or laugh at your baby. He or she is trying to communicate in a highly rudimentary way; listen. Use your voice and calming signs such as I love you & quiet as a consistent reinforcement of the expected behavior. Take control of the situation through reassurance and eye contact and attempt to identify the message behind the tantrum. Give control by teaching your baby basic signs to communicate core needs. When the tantrum is taking place ask and sign for baby potential triggers such as tired or hungry If the baby has a request that is inconsistent with their welfare, like wanting candy ten times a day you should still acknowledge their want and offer healthier options as well as a simple explanation that affirms your understanding of their want.
Identify The Triggers & Equip Your Baby With Relevant Signs
Every baby is unique when it comes to their personality and preferences. Spend time learning about your baby’s favorite activities, foods or toys and emphasize the learning of signs associated with their preferences. Consider printing the most relevant flash cards and posting the card on your wall to allow your baby to point to a particular sign when they are too frazzled to sign. By giving your baby the skills to convey specific preferences unique to them you will see a significant reduction in temper tantrums.
Empower Your Toddler with Options
Options are empowering for all of us. Within limits you should work on introducing your baby to decision-making and options. Keep in mind that options for babies should be about selecting from two or more good choices or at a minimum parents should stick to choices that are safe & healthy. Through giving options your baby is learning how to think and how to move forward in handling simple processes. Toddlers often struggle with matters of self-help such as grooming or dressing on their own. Consider teaching your toddler signs to identify colors such as blue or green and begin challenging them with questions like: Would you like to wear your blue or your green shoes? By giving an open question your toddler is unlikely to revert to the classic “no!”
Encourage Independence Though The Learning of Self-Help Tasks
Another great way to reduce tantrums associated with the terrible twos is to keep your toddler busy with achievable self-help tasks such as learning how to put their own shoes on or simple grooming tasks like brushing their hair. Teach your toddler the baby signs associated with each task, use the sign contextually and let your baby suggest grooming or self-help tasks he or she may be inclined to do on their own.
Let Love Save The Day
Even when you make your best effort and your toddler has the means to overcome communication barriers there will be challenging days. Give yourself a break and find ways to give and receive love. Start anew each day with confidence that every day your toddler will discover new and better ways to engage with the world that surrounds them.
Take a look at the Baby Sign Language Ultra Kit. 12 different baby sign language resources to use and enjoy from pregnancy to age 4.
Has Baby Sign Language helped your toddler overcome the terrible twos? Tell us more about it in the comments.