A few years back I had gone to a friend’s place. Both of us were sitting and discussing something important. Her 7 years old son came and asked her if she would play with him. My friend politely told him that she was busy and would play later. A few minutes later we found her son yelling at his toys and throwing things in his room. All this made my friend very upset.
It is common among toddlers to respond in tantrums because they are unable to express their emotions properly. However, when kids above 5 or 6 years exhibit extreme or aggressive tantrums, they might be suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder commonly known as ADHD.
Causes of ADHD tantrums
- Any kind of physical discomfort of the childlike hunger, sleep, tiredness, or sickness may cause these tantrums.
- Sensory overstimulation such as feeling hotter than normally everyone does, being more sensitive to pain, etc.
- Anger, frustration, fear or any other overwhelming emotions.
- Not being able to ask for what they need.
- A desire for attention.
- An earlier successful tantrum- if you have reacted to one tantrum in the way the child wants you to, then it will become a repeated affair.
How to Respond
- Maintain Calm: It is normal for you to feel upset when you child shows such behavior. However, scolding or raising a hand will only make the situation worse. Remember, some of these to help you:
- Talk in a calm voice even though you are on the verge of losing your temper.
- If they are challenging the rules laid down by you, remain strict but calm and repeat the rule firmly.
- Do not try and reason out with them in the middle of a tantrum.
2. Try to discipline them positively: Consistent positive parenting methods can finally help achieve your goal and enhance the child’s mental wellbeing.
- Praising the child for use of words like thank you, sorry and their usage in daily practice.
- Clearly defining out the rules that they need to follow.
- Stating the consequences if the rules are broken and reinforcing them.
- Do not criticize the child’s mistakes, rather offer compassion and understanding for the worng doings.
3. Ignore the tantrums: Once the child knows he/ she has been successful with the tantrum they will use it often. When you ignore the tantrums and they realize such behavior is not getting them anything or anywhere they will stop. However, keep a few things in mind before you ignore them
- Make sure the room they are in does not have any items that can harm them.
- Carry on with your work calmly, without responding to them.
- Just avoid they for as long as their tantrum continues but do ensure they are safe.
Preventing Future Tantrums
Children going through ADHD can overcome it with the help and guidance of the adults around them. Parents, grandparents, caretakers all can be a part of it.
- Communicate: When the child is out of the ADHD phase speak with the child in a calm and loving tone to explain how they can express their overwhelming feelings without a tantrum. Also tell them how much they will be appreciated for that behavior and bring them at par with the adults.
- Attend: Do not let the child reach the threshold of boredom or neglect where he/ she is forced to adopt to the means of throwing a tantrum. If you know you will be busy plan some activity or time with grandparents so that the child does not feel neglected.
- Chalk Out a Routine: Children often fit into a routine and are able to place themselves well in it. However, when the routine needs to be broken say on a holiday or for some unexpected reason plan well for kid’s food, clothing and activities.
- Listen: Share your experiences when you were of their age and how you felt about certain situations. Encourage them to come out with their feelings and choices be it for minor things like their clothes, hair accessories, colors, books, toys etc.
The Bottom Line
Every child has their share of tantrums in early childhood. So did we. However, if the tantrums become a daily affair and get disruptive and harmful do not hesitate to consult a therapist for advice.