Those little bundles of baby goodness grow up to become mighty toddlers. They can be unpredictable, they can be impulsive and I’m sure we’ve all experienced our share of toddler tantrums. It’s exhausting and though we may sometimes want to join in their tanty, it is up to us as adults to help curb this behaviour and teach our children strategies to cope.
With three children who are all in the tantrum phase (will it ever end?), these are my tried and true toddler tantrum breaking tricks that all parents should keep handy.
How to tame toddler tantrums
1. Naming emotions
With such a wide range of different emotions, our toddlers can’t be blamed for not know how to express or recognise them. It is up to us to guide our toddlers to understand their feelings and how to express them appropriately.
2. Spot triggers
If you have yourself a regular tanty thrower, take note of what is happening before, during and after these meltdowns. Often you will notice a pattern and you can begin to pinpoint any triggers that your child may have. Anticipate and avoid if possible.
3. Do not reason
When a toddler becomes overcome with emotion, their brains are no longer able to hear reason. In this state, don’t attempt a reasonable conversation. Let them feel the full wrath of their emotions, calm down, then you can attempt your conversation.
4. Selectively ignore
Our toddlers have an innate desire to push boundaries and, more ingrained, attention seek. When these two powers combine, the tantrums can become huge and without reason. Sometimes the best response is to respectively and selectively ignore this behaviour.
The best form of defence against toddler tantrums is attack. Your best attack is distraction!
Young children don’t have the natural ability to take a deep breath on demand, which is a calming technique that would benefit them.
For my children, I have taught them to “blow out the candles”. I hold up five fingers and ask them to blow. With each proper deep breath, a candle goes down. More times then not by the time the five candles are out, my children have calmed and we can speak reasonably.
7. Play, rest, play
Take the lead from early learning teachers and follow each active activity with a calming one. Children don’t naturally know how to regulate their emotions or bodies. It is our responsibility to teach and guide them in self regulation and the best way to do this is through appropriately timed activities.
8. Love bomb
Often the last thing we feel like doing is telling our child how much we love them when they are acting so poorly. But I always find, if all else fails, hug them, tell them you love them and hold on tight. Love that toddler tantrum out.
9. Avoid hangry rage
We know what it is like to get hangry (hunger-induced angry) and if we aren’t able to control ourselves, then we can’t expect our little ones too. Carry snacks and offer food when you begin to notice a shift in behaviour.
Try these healthy snacks for both you and your kids.
10. Listen and respond
Often a tantrum is telling you something. Are they tired? Hungry? Worried or nervous? Maybe over stimulated? Take a moment to listen and respond appropriately.
Good behaviour needs constant and enthusiastic praise.
When the day is over, put them to sleep, put your feet up and pat yourself on the back. You survived another day of toddlers!