Temper Tantrums: Helping Angry Babies


Tantrum
Christine Szeto, via Flickr

When children get angry and sad, they sometimes have tantrums. Why do children have tantrums? How can adults help them?

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

This is a tantrum. The screaming. The crying. The shouting. Sometimes there is kicking or hitting. What does the child want? She will not tell you. What will make her quiet? What will make her stop screaming? Should you give her a toy to play with? Should you remove her from the situation? Should you punish her?

Voice 2 

These are questions many parents struggle with. But, even if you do not have children, you may have seen or dealt with a tantrum. You may have seen a child in a tantrum on the bus or in the market. How can parents manage tantrums? How can people on the bus or in the market deal with and understand tantrums? Today’s Spotlight is on tantrums. In today’s program, we tell about a new study. This study can help people know what to do when a child has a tantrum.

Voice 1 

Almost every child has a tantrum at some point in his or her life. These tantrums can include screaming, crying, yelling, or fussing. They can also include physical actions like kicking or hitting. A child in a tantrum may stop breathing on purpose! This can be extremely frustrating for any parent. It makes parents angry and impatient.

Voice 2 

But many child experts believe that tantrums are a normal part of child development. Most children have tantrums between the ages of one and three. They are equally common in boys and girls. However, knowing these facts is little help to tired and angry parents.

Voice 1 

However, a group of researchers recently released a study. The results of this study may be able to help frustrated parents solve their tantrum problems. This group of researchers wanted to gather information on tantrums in toddlers. Toddlers are very young children - about ages one to three. The researchers decided to record the sounds of the tantrum. But they needed a way to record and study the sounds. Professor James A. Green was a researcher in the study. He described their process to NPR.

Voice 3 

“We developed a baby shirt that toddlers could wear. It had a high-quality wireless microphone sewn in it. Parents put this baby shirt on the child and press a go button. This begins the recording.”

Voice 2 

Toddlers in the study wore the special baby shirt for a few hours. If the toddler had a tantrum, the microphone recorded the sounds. After the experiment, the researchers had recorded over 100 tantrums.

Voice 1 

Then they began the work of studying the recordings. They compared the sound recordings in different ways. They put the information from the recordings into a graph. The graph could show the researchers clearly when the sounds changed. They noticed that each kind of sound looked different on the graph. But they also noticed that all of the tantrums followed a similar pattern - each had similar parts that repeated.

Voice 2 

The recordings showed that anger and sadness happened at the same time in the tantrum. And some sounds and physical actions usually went together. Professor Michael Potegal was another researcher involved in this project. He explained to NPR,

Voice 4 

“Screaming and yelling and kicking often go together. Throwing things and pulling and pushing things often go together. Combinations of crying, whining, falling to the floor and seeking comfort. These things also go together.”

Voice 1 

All this information was interesting. But could it be useful? The researchers believe that knowing this information will probably not stop a child from having a tantrum. But it CAN help parents and other adults manage the tantrums. It can help a parent know when to interfere with the toddler’s tantrum. And it can also help the parent feel a sense of control in a frustrating situation.

Voice 2 

The researchers did have some advice for parents. Many parents may try to manage the tantrum by asking their child questions.

Voice 5

“What do you want!?”

Voice 6 

“Why are you doing that?”

Voice 1 

But the study found that asking questions was not a way to stop the tantrum. In fact, in some cases it made the tantrum worse! Professor Green explains:

Voice 3

“When children are at the most angry, and they are screaming and they are kicking, probably asking questions may make that period of anger longer. It is difficult for them to process information. Answering a question from the parent may be too difficult. It is just adding more information into their brain than they can really understand.”

Voice 2 

Some child experts do suggest some talking during a tantrum. Many child experts believe tantrums often happen because toddlers cannot express themselves. A toddler is still forming her communication skills. So, these experts suggest that adults give toddlers the words to help the toddlers express themselves. These words help to calmly correct the child, or to explain what is happening to the child.

Voice 1 

Dr. Sears is a respected child expert in the United States. He suggests that an adult explain the situation. For example, the child may want to play with a dangerous object, like a knife. The adult can calmly tell the child why this is not permitted. The adult could say:

Voice 5 

“I am sorry, you cannot play with a knife. It is too sharp. You could cut yourself.”

Voice 2 

The internet website Babyzone also suggests talking to a child. Imagine a child who is hitting or kicking during a tantrum. They suggest expressing sympathy for the child’s feelings. An adult could say:

Voice 6

 “I know you are angry. But we do not hit.”

Voice 1 

This is one way for adults to deal with tantrums. But the study found that the best way to end a tantrum was to help the child to finish feeling anger. Researchers say that after the child was past the feelings of anger, he was left with the feeling of sadness. Then a parent could offer comfort and love. So how could parents help the toddler get past his anger? The answer is easier to say than to do. When a child is having a tantrum for no reason, it is best for the parent to just... do nothing!

Voice 2 

In fact, many experts agree that the best thing a parent can do when a tantrum begins is to stay calm. A child in a tantrum may not have control of herself. The website KidsHealth.org suggests that adults in these situations try to have enough self-control for themselves and their toddler!

Voice 1 

Finally, when the tantrum is over, there is one last important thing to do. Put both of your arms around the toddler in a hug. Give him a kiss. Encourage him. Tell him that you still love him. This is the most important thing for a child to know.

Voice 2 

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Temper Tantrums: Helping Angry Babies”.

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Music provided by Podington Bear.

Question:

Do you see children having tantrums? When you were a child, did you have tantrums?

Comments


humble71's avatar
humble71
said on April 02, 2012

Hi, I think it’s very important to new parents to know these suggestions , because toddlers are very irritated and explode suddenly . Personally I can’t stand it when a toddler cry out in the bus and I’ve seen mothers that hit their toddlers in front of anyone , it doesn’t matter if parents are inside the bank or an office. Many times in the crowed cities parents are not calmed down and when their toddlers begin with tantrum behaviour they don’t know what to do .
It’s good to know that it’s better to be calm down and don’t say nothing and when the crazy time has finished then give a warm hug the toddler.  Thanks my friends, all the topics are so very useful for daily life.

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kenhieuloilam
said on April 05, 2012

We know about children. We care for, teach, correct and defend children. Children have difficult times. They need love, tolerance and efforts of everyone to overcome. When we care for children we learn about children, ourselves, difficulties and good things. We also have chance to perfect ourselves. We feel we are all not perfect persons. We also have difficult times. We live our lives in love, tolerance and efforts of everyone. We hope for good things. We live our lives for good things. We try much to get better. We try much to reach perfection.

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D Nguyen
said on April 07, 2012

New information for me, thank you so much!

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lequangvu
said on April 23, 2013

I hope my daughter do not temper tantrums with us…

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nature187_vn
said on April 26, 2013

I think that really a normal growth of toddlers,we can reduce actions of them and should not beat and shout so that our children will have bad memories of childhood themselves…I think when they grew up like adult they will change minds..Thanks for sharing,it really useful for me in the future when I have a family of myself!

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on April 26, 2013

Good program
Thanks for programs help me much for learn day a day.

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jack shin
said on June 23, 2013

Thank you for this useful lesson.
A toddler with tantrum might be one of scariest moment what we can encounter when after we’ve found someone who we love and got married.
I hope i will never forget this, and use this method what you suggested to my little boy and girl. :)

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Mykola
said on May 30, 2014

Thanks a lot

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Mykola
said on May 30, 2014

hanks a lot!
You work is very important for us

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Mykola
said on May 30, 2014

Thanks a lot!
You work is very important for us, all stories are interested!

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thuyanle
said on May 30, 2014

I think there are a few parent does not know this information.I think this information can spread to them. So we can understand clearly toddle period of childrent. And we can help children live in our love and have a good childhood.

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j
said on August 07, 2015

Hi dear spotlightenglish team
Your program sounds great since you combine voice and transcript of scientific and recent issues. I rarely found such an innovative method of teaching reading elsewhere.
Best regards

Hesam Tajik's avatar
Hesam Tajik
said on August 09, 2015

I can not stand it. In fact, it is intolerable…!
It was fantastic. Thank you.

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Galina
said on February 03, 2019

Thank you very much for interesting program!
I absolutely agree with the advice “When a child is having a tantrum for no reason, it is best for the parent to just… do nothing!” I also think that everything depends on the parents, especially on their mothers. If the mother is calm, the child will be calm. When I see that the baby is having tantrum, but his mother can not manage with this, I can’t understand how this is possible.

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Honneur
said on February 05, 2019

My wife and I had three daughters. They grew up with great care and love, but we never allowed tantrums in our house and I do not remember any tantrums in public made by them. With only a serious look, they were silent and in peace. At home, we will never meet their unjustified demands or change our decisions. No meant no and yes meant yes ...