Temper Tantrums – Why they happen and what you can do

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 04:55pm
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Meltdowns happen, especially during the toddler years. Whether it’s an enticing cupcake at the grocery store that she just has to have, a shiny toy or a desire to stay at the playground when you’ve said it’s time to go – small children can turn a simple ‘no’ into a full-blown tantrum in record time. It can be embarrassing and frustrating for parents – who doesn’t want to lose their cool when they have a screaming two-year-old throwing herself on the ground in front of all the parents at the playground? But there are things you can do to help you stay calm and, hopefully, defuse the situation. And, even if your child refuses to be soothed, remember that all those other parents have been there too!

Our experts get a lot of questions about tantrums – it’s a common problem that parents have to cope with. The first thing to understand is what causes the temper tantrums. The experts say that there are three main reasons:

  1. They’re unable to cope with their feelings. These feelings can be anything from hunger, sickness, confusion, helplessness, frustration, anger or even terror. Being physically upset is the main way for a toddler with a limited vocabulary to express feelings. For example, if you refuse to give in to your child and this makes him feel angry, your child may not be able to cope with his angry feelings. He may express his feelings by having a temper tantrum.  
  2. They’ve learned—from past experience—that temper tantrums are rewarded. If your child gets what he wants once as a result of a tantrum, he is more likely to have temper tantrums to force you to his will.
  3. They want attention. This can stem from feelings of being left out, ignored or lonely.

So now you know why your child is hurling herself onto the grass by the slide, but what can you do to make her stop? 

“Be patient,” suggests Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting. “When you stay calm and don’t lose your temper you set a good example in the way you handle the tantrum. If you get angry it will just make things worse.”

And Foster suggests that you don’t worry about what other people around you are thinking. Remember that other parents understand and sympathize and that for every person that is critical there are many who have been there themselves. There are no perfect parents, so just deal with the problem at hand and try not to worry about what others are thinking.

Experts suggest that, as hard as it might be at the time, you shouldn’t give into your child during a tantrum. That can be easier said than done when your child is kicking and screaming in public, but when you give in you just reinforce the idea that tantrums are an effective way to get what she wants. Giving in ups the chances that you’ll be dealing with a lot more tantrums.

Try to soothe your child when she’s having a tantrum. Sometimes it doesn’t work, because she’s too worked up, but it helps to try. Take her to a calm, safe place and let her cry it out. Stay close.

When she’s ready, hold her and offer reassuring comments. Help her talk about what happened, how she felt and why she was angry. It may seem difficult, but discussing the situation can help your child understand and give her the words to deal with her feelings in the future.

If you find that tantrums are happening more and more, or that your child is really having trouble settling down, discuss this with your child's physician.

Did your child have tantrums? Does he still? How do you cope? Share your story with other parents just like you by leaving a comment below!

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Outdoor safety tips for toddlers in the wintertime

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 04:05pm
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Going on an outdoor half day or full day trip with the kids? Here are some things to keep in mind.


Keep everyone warm from head to toe. There's nothing worse than you or the kids being cold. Check the weather for the area you are planning to visit – temperatures can vary significantly across relatively small distances.

Be prepared with extra layers. Even after checking the weather and dressing appropriately, you may reach your destination and realize it is chillier than expected. Keep extra layers in the car that can easily be added under your child's snowsuit.

If there is snow, make sure things are waterproof. Kids of all ages love the snow – rolling in it, playing with it, and generally covering themselves in it. Make sure that snowsuits, boots, and especially mittens are waterproof. Labels will indicate if the garment is waterproof. If this is not stated on the label, the item is likely not waterproof. For your young day tripper, mittens are best rather than gloves.

Check for wetness at lunch. It's not unusual in the winter for people, including children, to sweat if they have been physically active. This can often make clothing wet. If you are continuing in the afternoon, make sure clothes are dry – especially socks and mittens. Keep extras with you to change into.

Put some tissue into your child's pockets – it may be needed along the way.

Keep some lip balm with you in case of chapped lips.

In the Car

Weather during winter is unpredictable so better to be prepared. Keep extra snacks (including water) and blankets in the car as well as an emergency kit.

Keep some age appropriate activities your child can use to pass the time in case of traffic or other unexpected delays.

Adjust your child's clothing to meet the climate of the car. If the kids have been in snowpants and many layers during the day, reduce the number of layers for the car ride home. Hot kids soon become cranky kids and our ability to respond while driving is limited.

Take along some of the kids' favourite tapes. A sing song can make the ride fun for everyone.

Winter Activities for the Family

Tobogganing is a great family activity that everyone can take part in. Some things to remember:

  • Dress warmly ensuring that coats, mittens and boots are waterproof.
  • Check in with your child frequently to ensure s/he is warm and dry.
  • Have your child wear a helmet that is approved for outdoor winter activities.
  • Children 5 years old and under should not go down alone. This means you will need a toboggan that can seat two.
  • Try to pick a hill that isn't filled with skiers and others who may overwhelm a young child.
  • Toboggan away from roads and any bodies of water.
  • Ensure the hill is clear of any obstacles including large trees or rocks.
  • Also ensure there is adult supervision with young children.

Skating is another family activity that is often close to home too! Remember to:

  • Dress warmly ensuring that coats, mittens and boots are waterproof.
  • Check in with your child frequently to ensure s/he is warm and dry.
  • Have your child wear a helmet that has a mouthguard on it.
  • Make sure an adult has checked the ice if skating on lakes or ponds.
  • If you are introducing your child to skating for the first time, choose a rink that is not too crowded or overwhelming for your child.
  • Ensure there is adult supervision if you are not joining your child.

Winter activities can be loads fun so long as you are prepared and everyone is warm.


What do you do to prepare your toddler for outdoor activities in the wintertime? Let other parents know and post a comment below!

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