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Babysitting In Dubai: Understanding Temper Tantrums

One thing that babysitters in Dubai or elsewhere have to deal with while babysitting, are temper tantrums.

All children have them and sometimes they can be nerve shattering even for the most even tempered and patient child carer. Whether you are a mother or a nanny/babysitter in Dubai, you need to understand the underlying cause for the tantrums to be able to help the child and deal with it. When children are left with caregivers other than their parents, the tantrums may be more frequent and severe than with parents. This often becomes the cause for babysitters losing their temper and punishing a child, which can cause an antagonistic relationship between the child and the caregiver.

What are tantrums?

Not all show of defiance can be termed as a temper tantrum. All of us have our moods and sometimes tend to lose our temper, children do it too, but this cannot be termed as a tantrum. A tantrum tends to be more severe in nature and controlling a child under such conditions can sometimes be very difficult. A tantrum is often a show of frustration, fear or anxiety in a child. When a child is unable to express him/herself or is scared or anxious and an adult is unable to alleviate the anxiety or fear, then the emotions build up to such an extent that literally a fuse is blown and a temper tantrum is underway. Sometimes a tantrum is slow to brew and may take a few hours to express itself, but other times it can strike unexpectedly completely out of the blue over some trivial thing. All the pent up feelings and emotions come bursting out and the child rarely has any control over these or him/herself. Tantrums cannot be controlled by adults or caregivers and it is wise to remember that a child also has no control over them.

While tantrums are a very normal process of socializing and growing up for a child, sometimes, when it continues beyond a certain age, it could become problematic and may be even termed as anti-social or abnormal behaviour.

How Does a Child Behave During a Temper Tantrum?

What a child does or who it reacts or behaves during a fit of tantrum is very child specific. Each child has its own set of actions that he/she repeats most of the times. But there are certain behaviors that are often commonly observed during a temper tantrum. These range from: Screaming

  • Crying

  • whining

  • Rushing around literally like a headless chicken

  • Kicking

  • Beating

  • Hitting

  • Biting

  • Pinching

  • Throwing things around

  • Flinging on the floor

  • Writhing on the floor

  • Hurting themselves

  • Holding the breath till the face turns blue or the child loses consciousness

  • Going stiff

  • Screaming till he/she goes blue in the face and out of breath

  • Stubbornness

  • Defiance

  • Anger

  • Ranting

  • Resistance to pacifying

  • Inability to control oneself even if the demands are met

All these type of behaviors can be termed as temper tantrums. A child may exhibit, any, some or all of the above when having a tantrum fit.

Typical Age When Tantrums Start and Stop

Though people associate tantrum with older children, the fact is that it has been observed in children as young as 8 – 9 months old. Most typically, toddlers between 1 – 4 years of age are observed to have these fits. But sometimes, these tantrums can continue beyond the preschool years and well into teens and even adulthood. During infancy, a child who is developing to express his verbal ability may be given to tantrums because of his or her inability to express exactly what he or she wants to convey. This could lead to anger and frustration and finally culminate in a tantrum.

Frequency of Tantrums

The frequency of the tantrums varies from child to child. Some children are more frequently prone to give in to tantrums while others may have them very occasionally. A child may have one or even two tantrums a day, then there may be periods when the child has no tantrums at all. This is all normal behaviour. If a child has several tantrum fits a day and on most days, or if the tantrum fits continue regularly for long periods of time, then you need to take care of the situation.

A typical tantrum episode should last 5 – 10 minutes. Sometimes, once in a while, it may extend beyond this time range to 25 – 30 minutes or even more. This is normal behaviour. But if a child shows tendencies to have prolonged episodes everytime, this is cause for concern.

Prolonged episodes and very frequent episodes can indicate underlying psychological or developmental problems with a child. The child may be prone to depression or suffer from a disorder that should be treated and taken care of as early as possible.

Causes of Tantrums

There is always an underlying cause for a fit of tantrum. These reasons vary and include the following:

Temperament of a child: some children have lesser control over their emotions and actions than others. These children will be more prone to tantrums.

Stress or Anger: when a child is stressed, frustrated or angry about something, you can expect a tantrum.

Tiredness: Often when children are tired or sick, they can lose control of their emotions and give in to a tantrum.

Overstimulation: When a child has to deal with a lot more than it can handle or absorb, the frustration it feels comes out as a tantrum fit.

Inability to Control a Situation: Children, like adults, need to have some control over their immediate surroundings, possessions, etc. When something happens that makes them realize that they are not in complete control, they may express their anger and frustration as a tantrum.

How to Avoid Tantrums

Avoiding a tantrum is always the best solution but it is not always possible to be able to completely avoid it. But if even one in ten tantrums can be avoided or their intensity diffused, it is worth the effort. The measures given below have worked for most parents or babysitters in Dubai, in most situations.

Whether you have a babysitter in Dubai or a child carer who looks after your child, you should teach her these measures to avoid tantrums as much as possible:

Maintain a regular schedule: It is very important that a child has a regular schedule. As mentioned above, a tired, hungry or over stimulated child is more likely to have a tantrum than a rested and fed one. Hence, the childcare giver should make sure that there is a regular schedule for feeding and resting for the child and that it must be followed to avoid a meltdown.

Pay Attention: Pay attention to your child’s needs, wants and activities. Make sure that he or she has all that is needed. Give them some of the things they want and restrain on others and pay attention to their behaviour rewarding good behaviour with positive appreciation and possibly a reward to enhance the importance of good behaviour.

Communicate: Communication is a very important aspect of preventing tantrums. When a child feels that he or she is being ignored or there is a communication gap, the child is likely to get frustrated and angry which will eventually come out as a tantrum fit.

Let the child have some control: give the child control over little things. Give him or her choices so they feel they have a control over the things that matter to them. Let the child choose the clothes she or he may want to wear. Provide a choice in food. Ask the child whether he or she would prefer an apple or an orange, or other such similar things.

Distraction: When you feel an episode of tantrum is eminent, then the best strategy is to distract the child. The children have a short attention span and once distracted, will often forget about the thing that was annoying them. Starting a new activity or just a change of place will help to distract.

Know your child’s limits: Know what it takes to get your child into a temper tantrum and avoid the situation. If the child is hungry or tired, make sure that the child is fed or rested as soon as possible. If the child is sick, take care of his / her needs. Learn to Concede: sometimes when a child wishes to have something, learn to consider the wish and give in to it. Don’t always say no to a child. This can cause low esteem, a feeling of dejection and eventually depression in a child.

Dealing With Tantrum

For each child a different approach works. Not all approaches work for all kinds so you may have to try out different strategies to learn what works and what doesn’t work with your child. For older children a strategy of time out works, but this may not be right for a toddler who doesn’t understand the meaning of time out. For a toddler love and patience may work better.

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