7 Effective Ways to Deal With Toddler Tantrums
Thank you to Ivana Davies for contributing this article. You can check out her blog at https://findyourmomtribe.com/
It may seem like things are going great with your toddler until they have their first tantrum. Parents are often confused and annoyed when their children start screaming and kicking. Toddlers are complicated people at the best of times, and it is hard to manage all of their emotions. Here are seven effective ways to deal with toddler tantrums, along with the triggers that are likely to set them off.
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1. Change Your Attitude
The most important way to deal with toddler tantrums is to change your attitude toward them. Rather than feeling annoyed or upset because your very, very opinionated two year old is giving you a hard time, try seeing it from their point of view. Your child is not giving you a hard time on purpose — they are having a hard time. (This doesn’t apply as much when toddlers or preschoolers are older and have learned to use tantrums as a way to get attention or get what they want.)
The calmer you can be when dealing with a toddler tantrum, the better. Your emotional reactions will only fuel your child’s upset behavior. This is one of the hardest things I had to learn to do when my kids were toddlers, but it was worth the extra effort.
2. Plan Ahead
If you know that your child is likely to have a tantrum in a particular situation, try not to place them in the situation to begin with. Understandably, you will often have to grocery shop with your toddler or run important errands like going to the doctor. It might be a good idea to keep them out of the toy aisle at the store, however.
Many toddlers will break down when they are hungry or thirsty. Keep a drink and a healthy snack in your bag.
3. Use Time Outs with Care
Many parents believe that a tantrum should be dealt with by giving the child a “time out.” While this is a better idea than yelling or getting upset with the child, you should use time outs with caution, especially with younger toddlers.
When your child has a tantrum, make sure that they are in a safe place where they can’t hurt themselves or anyone else. If you walk away and leave a young toddler when they are upset, you are sending the message that you will leave when they are showing strong emotions. Older toddlers and preschoolers are old enough to understand that you are giving them a safe space to cool off. Try to understand that your young toddler, especially under 18 months, is overwhelmed and is not purposely trying to make you angry.
Try sitting close by your toddler while he or she is having a tantrum. Stay calm and be ready just in case your child needs you to be close. My daughter had intense tantrums starting at about 14 months, and the best way I found to calm her down was to sit down on the floor with her.
Sometimes she responded well to being held while she was upset. At times she kicked and punched me, but that was when I put her down and put a little more distance between us.
4. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Letting your toddler know that you acknowledge their feelings is important. Try saying something like “You’re feeling frustrated because the toy isn’t working like you thought it would.” Giving names to these emotions can help your toddler learn to manage them as they get older.
5. Remove Them from the Situation
When your child is having a tantrum, it is a good idea to remove them from the situation that is setting them off. If they are fighting with a friend over a toy, try to put some distance between them. If your child is screaming in a store or restaurant, take them outside and possibly back to the car. (I ate a lot of cold restaurant meals out of take-out containers in the car.) Removing the child from the situation is sometimes enough to help them calm down. A change of scenery and removing whatever is overstimulating your child can be very helpful.
6. Don’t Act Resentful
It is all too easy to let your own emotions be caught up in your child’s tantrum. It is natural that you might feel angry or resentful toward your toddler. Try not to take these feelings out on them. They are being overtaken by emotions that they don’t know how to deal with. They are crying out for help, not expressly to annoy you. (Again, some of this does not apply to a preschooler’s tantrums, when they may have learned that throwing a tantrum gets them what they want.)
7. Encourage Self-Expression
One way to lessen the chances of future tantrums is to help your child understand their emotions. Giving names to the different feelings they may have is helpful as they get older. Articulating the emotion can help your child learn to deal with it. For example, you can help your child learn when they are feeling sad, angry, or frustrated. Modeling how to deal with these emotions rather than going into punishment mode will get you farther in the long run.
Also, it might be a good idea to involve them in some house chores instead of keeping them busy with TV or tablet. Even two year olds can tidy toys and do other simple tasks. They’ll learn about responsibility and you get to spend more time with them. It’s a win-win.
Tantrums Don’t Last Forever
Every time I see a mom dealing with a toddler tantrum in public, I feel sympathetic. My kids are 5 and almost 8 so it hasn’t been a long time since I had to deal with this problem in person.
The most important thing to remember about tantrums is that they are a natural part of child development and that they will pass in time. Most children stopped having tantrums regularly when they are about 3 ½ or 4. By this time, they are more experienced with articulating their feelings.
If you are having problems with persistent or severe tantrums beyond this point, it might be a good idea to speak with your pediatrician about your concerns.
Ivana Davies is an educator turned stay-at-home mom. She’s a proud mom of a beautiful 7 year old girl and a playful 5 year old boy. Since she didn’t have a clue about raising kids, she had to learn it all in a hard way. Ivana managed to find so much information online and it inspired her to turn to blogging to share her experiences and struggles as a mom. Being a mom is not easy. In fact, it can sometimes be pretty isolating. Her blog, Find Your Mom Tribe, is here to help you connect with other moms, as well as to share mom hacks, information, and tools to help you on this parenting journey. You can catch up with her on Facebook and Pinterest.
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