Why a Good Child Goes Wild?

Temper tantrums are violent outbursts of anger. Most commonly, they occur between the ages two and four. Temper tantrum behaviors range from screaming, hitting, kicking, biting, or head banging, to throwing things around or breaking them. Children with temper tantrum problems often show these exaggerated reactions in response to minor events or provocations.
Almost all children display temper tantrums at some stage in their lives. Although, most such behaviors occur around age two and or between two to four, however, it may also happen before or after that period.   Despite the destructive appearance of temper tantrum episodes, most often they are natural and important part of the child’s development. 
Expression of emotional frustration and upset are normal and necessary for the child’s psychological development. Temper tantrums are the children’s ways of expressing their confusion, anger, frustration, and accumulated stress.
Parents should not try to prevent their children from emotional expression. Rather, they should help them to learn to express their emotions in appropriate manners. Understanding the causes of such behaviors can make it easier for the parents to teach them assertive rather than aggressive behaviors. 
The causes of temper tantrums may vary from one child to the next.  Simple things may cause them to feel frustrated and they may not be able to communicate to you what is bothering them. First of all your kid may be confused because he/she does not understand what you are saying or what you are asking them to do. Children get easily upset when they are not understood. Children below the age of three do not have the words to describe their needs and feelings.  That is why usually, after the age of three, most temper tantrums tapers off.  
One simple but frequent cause of frustration for children is having an illness or other physical problems or needs that they cannot describe or a physical discomfort that keeps them from expressing how they feel.  A child may be simply tired, sleepy, or hungry and not be able to express herself or she may not recognize that she is hungry.
Some kids may become anxious about something without being able to recognize or describe it to you.  Being jealous of a friend or a sibling can cause a child to become stressed and anxious.
Your child may feel frustrated because he can not do the things she can imagine, such as walking or running, climbing down stairs or from furniture, drawing things, or making toys work.

 For some children their temper tantrums are in response to changes in the routines while for others it may be due to difficulty making choices. Still others may be reacting to some form of abuse that is going on in their lives.  Also, some children, use temper tantrums as a way to manipulate their parents to give them what they want. Understanding the underlying causes of the child’s behavior can help the parents to deal with it more effectively.
For children to develop a healthy sense of self and to feel safe and secure, consistency and predictability of their environment are of vital importance.  Routine and predictable experiences help the child to make confident choices and to trust its environment. On the other hand, change in the child’s routines can cause confusion, disappointment, or anger.  For instance, mother reads a story to the child each night at bedtime, or the child is used to saying goodbye to others before going to bed.  Little things like that can become so routine for the child that sudden changes in such practices can make the child to feel confused and unsettled.
More drastic changes such as changes in the place of residence or school or parental conflicts and divorce can have much stronger effects on children.  For some Iranians who recently migrated from their homeland, such effects can be much more pronounced. 
The child views the routines as a means of providing known, safe, secure, and nurturing environment.  Even as adults, when we think of our childhood we often cherish memories of routines such as family traditions or events. Those memories are often remembered as loving, nurturing, and pleasant experiences.
Another source of frustration for some children could be their inability to make choices. Some parents tend to encourage their children to make their own independent choices long before teaching them how to do so. This can make the child feel insecure and confused about making decisions. Other children simply have too many choices to make and they feel overwhelmed. Children need to learn problem-solving skills.
You can help your child to make more secure and confident choices by limiting the number of choices he/she has to make. For example, instead of asking him what he wants to eat for lunch you can have him to choose between two dishes.  Or instead of asking them what they like to do over the weekend, you can make a semi-flexible plan for them and ask them to make some limited number of choices.
Predictability and consistency are necessary for the children to develop trust in their environment and to gain confidence and self-assurance.  Communicating to children in clear and consistent manners make them feel less confused and more secure.  Teaching children self control and appropriate behaviors involve setting limits and establishing boundaries.  Saying “no” firmly and consistently is very important in dealing with children’s behavioral problems. 
When the child displays temper tantrums, parents experience a variety of deep emotional reactions that can vary from anger to confusion or feelings of helplessness. How they deal with such emotions determines their degree of success in handling the kids’ problem behaviors.  To be effective, parents need to take charge of the situation and to be in control. After all, in chaotic situations such as the temper tantrum incidents, where the child appears almost completely out of control, it is very important that you as the parent be in control. 

In setting limits and establishing discipline, it is important for the parent to know that the child does not have to like or approve of the limits or the choices you provide them with. That means in the short run, the may be not be as happy with your terms as you want them to be. But, in the long run they will have more self-control, less temper tantrums, and at the same time feel better about themselves.
As mentioned above, in dealing with the child’s tantrums, it is important to know the cause of the child’s behavior and to plan your actions accordingly.   For example, if the child is using temper tantrums to manipulate you to get what he/she wants, your response should be different than when the child is experiencing true emotional outbursts.  In the next article, we will examine more specific ways of handling the child’s temper tantrums