Recent research conducted at the University of Minnesota provides deeper understanding into the childhood rite of passage known as the temper tantrum. These noisy episodes of defiant toddler behavior can include a child kicking, screaming, crying, or throwing himself or herself in the floor in utter desperation. For some children, these type of displays seem inevitable. The essential questions for parents: what can we do about it? How do we make it stop?
The answer, according to research, is to soothe your child through the peaks in anger as they are experienced. A tantrum is not a time to help a child connect their behavior to consequences. In fact, the parts of the child’s brain responsible for reasoning are extremely limited during a tantrum.
The trick in getting a tantrum to end as soon as possible, researcher Michael Potegal said, was to get the child past the peaks of anger. Once the child was past being angry, what was left was sadness, and sad children reach out for comfort. The quickest way past the anger, the scientists said, was to do nothing. Of course, that isn’t easy for parents or caregivers to do.
More Reading: What’s Behind Temper Tantrums