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Ask Joanne: My Two-Year-Old Has Terrible Tantrums

07/02/2010 20:18 | Updated 22 May 2015

What's your question about any aspect of life as a parent? Our experienced life coach Joanne Mallon is here to help. Send your questions in here and say if you'd like your name to be changed.

Sarah writes with a question about her toddler:

My two-year-old is having terrible tantrums. If I say no to him, he bangs his head in temper. He will not concentrate or listen to me at all. He will repeatedly do things over and over knowing that it is wrong. It's so frustrating as I also have a four-year-old and an 11-month old. I am finding it really hard to cope with him. Help!

Here's life coach Joanne's reply:

Dear Sarah

Well, he's at the right age for it isn't he? A two-year-old can usually understand much more than they can say. Therefore when they're angry, frustrated or tired they express themselves physically rather than verbally, resulting in the sort of behaviour that you're experiencing.

As well as being an expression of the child's feelings, remember that a tantrum is basically a show. And there can be no show without an audience, so try not to engage in the tantrum as much as you can. Ignore him, turn your back and find something much more interesting to do at the other side of the room. When my toddler kicked off, I used to go and sit on the floor and play with his toys. He soon stopped and came to see what he was missing.

Think about when these tantrums tend to occur and plan what you can do to head them off before they start. So if you can see that hunger or tiredness is a trigger, carry some snacks and plan your day around this as much as you can. As the middle child of three, your son is probably also aiming to attract your attention, so do make sure he gets some one-to-one time.

You say that he can't concentrate, and I am curious as to what exactly you are expecting from him by way of concentration? Most two-year-olds have a pretty short attention span. Since you have a baby, your son may seem more grown up in comparison, when really he's barely out of babyhood himself. There's some advice here on how to get your child to listen when you say no, which should help you communicate better with him.

With three children under five, I'm not surprised you're finding it a struggle to cope. Do look after yourself. If you need someone to talk to, the Parentline Plus helpline is free and available on 0808 800 2222.

All the best,

Joanne

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