How to Manage Your Child’s Tantrums
Tantrums are a very normal part of toddler life. They can happen over the smallest things (how dare you cut the toast into squares?!) and can happen at some inconvenient times.
Here are my Top Tips on dealing with them.
Do not shout to be heard over your screaming toddler – Possibly one of the hardest things to do but if you start shouting too then all you will end up with is a screaming toddler and a screaming you.
Instead, take a deep breath, count to 10 and remain calm. By remaining calm, you will be in control, and you will be setting a good example too.
Do not try to reason – We’ve all been there, especially when our toddler has had a meltdown in public, we have tried to reason with them. How many times has this worked though?
A toddler is not capable of reasoning until almost 3 years old (roughly) and then they are still trying to get to grips with their emotions and this is why they are sometimes very reasonable and sometimes they just cannot cope with drinking out of the blue cup!
Try to show them that you understand their anger, frustration and unhappiness but do not relent or they will see that having a tantrum is the way to get what they want.
Validate their feelings – Often our toddlers’ tantrums are over the smallest of things like not being allowed to eat their shoes or because their dream has stopped (one of Leo’s classics) and while to us these are things that don’t matter, to your toddler they really do.
Imagine if you were upset over something and someone said ”It’s nothing, don’t be silly.” Well, that is how it is to your toddler. Instead, try telling them that you understand. Sometimes, just that acknowledgement that you understand their feelings is just what they need.
Hug it out – If your toddler is upset and not being aggressive, sitting and hugging them firmly until they have calmed down really helps. This can make them feel secure and reassured that it’s ok. I have found this works well, especially for younger toddlers whose speech is not yet developed, and that they calm down much quicker.
Don’t worry about what others think – Often our toddlers choose the supermarket isle or a quiet cafe to have a tantrum causing lots of staring from other customers. It can be excruciatingly embarrassing for parents, but it is important to remember that your child isn’t doing anything wrong and most of the people staring have been in your shoes. Dealing with the tantrum as you would without people staring is the best way.
Looking for triggers – Knowing when your toddler is likely to have a meltdown is very useful. Are they tired or hungry? Are they in need of some attention? Have they had a big change in their life?
All these things are common triggers and often can be resolved very easily.
Finding a distraction – If you can see that your toddler is about to start having a tantrum, now is a good time to deploy the distraction technique. Try and turn their attention to something else, making it sound as amazing and interesting as possible. This technique will not work once they are in full swing, so it is important to catch them just as they are about to begin their meltdown.
Talk about emotions – Use books or games to help your little one understand feelings and talk to them about how to express themselves in a more calm way.
Be consistent – Deal with all your toddlers’ tantrums in the same way and be consistent with your rules and boundaries. Doing things one way one day and differently the next will cause confusion and likely make the problem worse.
Kirsty is a qualified early years and parent consultant and freelance parenting writer, often seen in the press. She has over 20 years’ experience working with young children and their families and is a mum of two.