SMALL children like to feel as if they are in control, especially between one to three years old when they are making sense of the world around them, and they have 'wants' that they consider to be needs. With language skills just budding, their desires are not really up for discussion. They want it all and they want it now. And if they can't have it, they throw a tantrum.
These toddler tantrums can be quite sudden and dramatic, and frustrating for you as the parent. The frustration can be multiplied if your child has a meltdown in public, or very often. Experts agree that while tantrums are a normal part of growing up and won't always be preventable, the best way to manage a meltdown is to take steps to lessen the chances of one happening in the first place.
But toddlers will be toddlers, so even if we batten down, meltdowns are always in the forecast. These parents share how they weather the sudden storms when they start raging.
Crystal, 26, mother of one:
When she is being unreasonable I just ignore her. If she is crying for an object that she cannot have but wants, like people's food or other kids' toys when we are on the road, I just try my best to explain that it's not hers and move away or distract her. Otherwise I let her cry, and I don't care who is watching.
Samuel, 30, father of two:
My son is four so once he starts with the cow bawling I call him to one side and ask him to tell me why he is crying, and name the feeling he has. He usually calms down while trying to explain. But my two-year-old daughter is a headache when she starts up. We just have to make sure she isn't going to roll into anything dangerous and wait her out.
Geena, 25, writer:
My three-year-old throws tantrums for everything. If I open the window or turn on the light without his help, or he sees me making his favourite food but it's not yet ready, or if I give him a snack but he feels for a different one, then he starts wailing uncontrollably. So I try to include him as much as possible in what I'm doing. I ask for his input and let him help me as much as he can, because most times he just wants to be included. If he is just being impatient I ignore him.
Martina, 31, mother of two:
My twin girls are the opposite of each other. One is short-tempered and the other is very calm. Sometimes one starts crying and the other just joins in for fun. It's really frustrating and it can be overwhelming and maddening. Sometimes I can give attention to the calmer child, but if they're both worked up, then I try to separate them and let them cool off in different corners.
Shaq, 29, father of one:
I distract him if I can. I just try to keep calm because if I get angry then he cries louder. I also let him stand in a corner and tell him that he can cry in that area, but nowhere else. Not gonna lie though, sometimes I bribe him with TV or snacks so I can have some peace and quiet.