Toddler Tantrums can be really challenging. One second they are as happy as can be, and the next they are having a meltdown. Difficulties seem to multiply tremendously when a young child decides they aren’t happy with something and it can be hard not to lose our cool when we can’t seem to gain control of the situation.
I hate to break it to you, but toddler tantrums are just a part of these tender sweet minds and their development. They are pretty much unavoidable. But, there are ways to help and cope with tantrums.
This isn’t always doable. Sometimes kids just want to be mad, and that’s okay! I know that for me, having something for my son to look forward to really helps in preventing a tantrum from happening. If I tell him what is going on and what steps we are planning to take in order to accomplish what we are doing, he is much less likely to get upset. This is a good setup for smooth transitions.
Try to recognize what sets your child off. Like I said, not always avoidable, but this could help in minimizing how often they happen. Be sure they aren’t hungry or tired. These are probably the top 2 reasons kids aren’t able to regulate their emotions in the first place. Maybe carry a favorite snack or drink to have on hand with you when you go out and about.
Don’t Get Upset
I feel like this is the hardest part for me. Whether I’m frustrated with my son not wanting to get dressed and have a timeline that I need to abide by or I’m in the middle of Target with a wailing 2-year-old that wants to touch everything, I struggle with not getting fired up and flustered. My thoughts start racing and I just want my child to do what I want or need them to do. This isn’t how we should react though! Think about it, when we get upset with our kids for having a tantrum, aren’t we throwing a fit ourselves? We need to teach by example and set the stage for calm behavior.
Address Their Feelings
Get down to their level and speak directly to them. Look them in the eyes. Ask them, “Are you feeling mad?” or “Are you feeling sad?” When we can help our children identify their feelings, they are better off with being able to learn how to deal with big feelings in the future. Begin by teaching them early!
Everyone is different with how they cope. Some kids may want their space when they have lost their cool. Sometimes they just need to get their emotions and feelings out. Maybe they are angry and need to scream or maybe they need to stomp around a bit to help flush everything out. If this is what they need to do, take precautions to be sure they are safe and ride it out. One of my children was prone to needing his space, so I was sure to give him some room and turn away so that he didn’t feel overwhelmed by my watching his every move.
Other kids may want to be loved and shown affection. Big hugs and a back rub can calm some kids down instantly. My daughter is one that does best with cuddling her and holding her really tight until we can talk about it and figure a solution out.
Again, remember that every person is different. Don’t try and force your toddler to accept a hug from you if they are trying to resist it.
Don’t Give In
Seriously though… Don’t just give into whatever your child is wanting their way just to get them to stop their tantruming in the moment.
Stand your Ground! Some things just have to be a certain way.
It reinforces certain behaviors if we are willing to give in when all craziness breaks loose! If you aren’t wanting your child to continue to throw fits, don’t let them have what they are demanding. Consistency is key.
Your best tool with kids is distracting them, especially toddlers. Create some kind of diversion. Try and make a silly face. Give them a little tickle. Make them laugh! Play a game and engage them in something they are interested in. One of my kids’ favorite games is making rhymes. Mom or Dad says a word and they try to think of one that rhymes with it. With really young kids, visual games like ‘I Spy’ or ‘Find the Letter or Color’ would be best.
Sometimes simply getting their minds off of what is setting them off is all they need.
Toddler tantrums are really hard! And it’s not fun to be the parent at the store with a wailing child. Hopefully, these things can help you and your toddler in coping! Stay consistent and just remember that as you go about teaching them and helping them through managing their big emotions, they will grow up to be wonderful adults with amazing emotional intelligence.
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