Examine what drives a toddler to a tantrum and how to help him manage his emotions.
It is normal for children between 24 to 30 months of age to have trouble putting strong emotions into words, which usually results in strong behaviour or tantrums. Remain calm and exercise patience. Experiment with different methods to discover what works best to calm your child down. Some children need comforting, while others need some time by themselves in order to regain control of their emotions.
As his imagination develops, he may occasionally get scared, without always being able to differentiate between what’s real and what’s pretend. Respond sensitively to his fears and explain what is real and what is pretend.
Between 30 to 36 months, friends become more important for your toddler. He may demonstrate increased desire to play with friends, one or two close friends in particular. It is not easy for children of this age to take turns or share, so help him to learn how to deal with the conflicts that arise. Show him how to compromise, such as playing with another toy while a friend has a turn.
Toddlers at this age may also begin to notice similarities and differences between people, such as their size, skin colour, etc. Teach your child to be sensitive to these differences, for example, explain that people come in many shapes and sizes.
Your toddler’s temperament may seem unpredictable as he becomes increasingly aware of his own self (“me,” “mine”), what he wants (“you, right now!”), and that he can talk to you and you mostly understand. He may ask for your help one moment only to reject it the next. It may seem that he is swings between his need to express himself and his need for your comfort. This is the time to establish boundaries so that he may learn what is or is not socially-acceptable behaviour.
Behavioural regression is relatively common among toddlers, and typically occurs during the mid to late months of toddlerhood.It includes anything that your toddler has outgrown but wants to return to, such as wearing diapers, drinking from a bottle or sleeping with a pacifier. Or, it may manifest as things that your child once mastered but has seemingly forgotten how to do, such as use the toilet. In many cases, toddler regression only lasts a few days or weeks and the child returns to his previous developmental fairly rapidly. It can arise as a result of an upsetting event or a change in the child’s life, such as the arrival of a younger sibling. Be sensitive and patient. Do not criticize your child’s infantile behaviour; instead, focus on promoting appropriate behaviour with positive reinforcement and look to addressing the underlying cause(s) of the regression.
Insight on Toddler Temperament
Researchers have found that while behavioural style, or “temperament”, can be recognized in babies, it is, in fact, during the toddler years that evidence for heritability and longer-term temperament influences can be found.
Many scientists agree that temperament includes differences in levels of emotionality/irritability, activity level/energy, sociability, and attention/persistence. Studies of identical twins reveal that temperament has some genetic influences. For instance, some family members can show similar behavioural styles, like high levels of energy.
The behavioural styles that appear to be most heritable are activity level and irritability/negative emotionality. Even though elements of temperament are heritable, there's no guarantee that a temperament style will appear in all children in a family or even in a succeeding generation. Furthermore, life experiences have a great deal of impact on temperament. In general, very high levels of ongoing irritability appear to be “most risky” for children's longer-term development.
If your toddler shows signs of a “challenging temperament,” take heart. Truly sensitive and flexible parenting goes a long way in helping an irritable toddler become better at controlling his emotions. Also, keep in mind that supportive experiences matter even when genes contribute to our behaviours.