I came across this old blog post that I wrote when Roland was 16 months old and thought it might be of interest and use for some of my readers. So I have rehashed it as currently tantrums are not an issue in my house, however with a 7 month old they could very well be just over the horizon!
So here are my tantrum tips!
Lets start with a quote from my original blog post. Sound familiar?
Sometimes it makes me laugh. You know, like when i’m not the parent dealing with it. He squeals so loud your ear drums hurt, his body goes stiff and he throws himself down. From a distance its funny. Up close though its another thing.
When a toddler has a tantrum in public, not only is there the stress of dealing with it, there is also the stress of knowing your child could be ruining other people’s opportunity to – (insert peaceful activity here). You want it to be over quickly, but you also know giving in is a road to no return. You see, toddlers are smart. Not only are they smart, they know how to work us.
In my work I have dealt with thousands of toddler tantrums, and I can navigate them with ease. They are short lived and the toddler quickly gets the message that tantrums won’t work on me. But at home I’m a mum. My little love is the one lying on the floor chucking a patty and its not always as easy. So the best thing to do when your little one is having meltdown after meltdown is to pick your battles. Is sitting at the little table to eat important? Is not climbing up to the kitchen bench to grab scissors important? Is not being allowed to press all the buttons on the remote control important? Is bathing important? Is not just eating biscuits important? Is putting your nappy on important? You basically get the jist.
So what can we do? Well, we can get smarter than the toddler! The best way to cure a tantrum I have found is to not have one at all. Thats right. Simple hey? Well some things I know are a definite tantrum time bomb so I just make sure the opportunity does’nt exist. You see tantrums are usually a sign of frustration. Toddlers are learning to communicate, they are learning how their bodies work and how the world around them operates.
So some quick tips will get you on the right track and hopefully me too!
ONE: Listen to your toddler. What are they trying to tell you, what are they looking at and doing? Can you guide them through the frustration or can you quietly manipulate the activity to ensure success. Remember though, children learn through mistakes and learning to deal with failure appropriately is important too.
TWO: If you say NO then NO it is. Always say what you mean. If a behaviour has a said consequence, make sure its realistic and you are actually going to follow through. Otherwise your little one will learn that a tantrum is a way to achieve what they want. Mum says no, I have a tantrum, and now it’s yes! For example, we were at an indoor play centre the other day, the preschool aged child wasn’t listening to her mum so her mum told her, “If you dont do as you are told we are going home and we won’t be coming here ever again”. I’m sorry lady, I don’t believe you and given your child has made no correction to their behaviour I would say they don’t either. (My example is to show that you need to mean what you say, always, when speaking to your child).
THREE: DISTRACTION! Why have a tantrum when watching mum dance like a crazy woman is much more fun! Or even mimic them and show them what they look like. They may not know how ridiculous they look and sound, and particularly for older children, it might be enough to snap them out of it.
FOUR: Comfort quickly and acknowledge their feelings. As soon as the calm starts, give them a hug and tell them you know they are frustrated, sometimes ‘blowing bubbles’ is hard but if we practice we will be able to ‘blow bubbles’ easily. Then help them with whatever the activity may be. Or if it’s that they wanted something to happen or an object, validate their feelings, “I know you feel sad because you wanted a turn of the swing, but its time to share with the other children”.
FIVE: A clean slate. When the tantrum is over, forget it. There is no use hanging on to it, it will only cause you reason to stress and it wont help your little one. It will just perpetuate the tantrum and in the end upset your relationship with your child.
SIX: Sometimes no amount of strategy will work and they may need to just cry it out. When you see they are starting to calm down, try to offer comfort, if it ignites their tantrum again just walk away. You will know when the time is right to try and comfort again, and they may even pick themselves up and come to you. Give them a hug, tell them to calm down with a soothing, yet firm voice and when they are calm, talk about the upset and if appropriate walk them through it. For example, help them stack their blocks again.
Unfortunately toddler tantrums are a part of growing up. But hopefully with these few pointers we can make sure tantrums are short lived.
Good luck with it, remember to stay strong and like all phases of growing up, this too shall pass.
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