My toddler has just passed his second birthday and along with turning two he has started asserting his independence and venting his frustrations with temper tantrums. Even the best behaved toddler has an occasional temper tantrum. Tantrums are common during the second year of life, a time when children are acquiring language.
Toddlers are trying to master the world and when they aren’t able to accomplish a task, they often use one of the only tools at their disposal for venting frustration – a tantrum. There are several basic causes of tantrums that I have noticed with my little man: seeking attention, hunger, tiredness and a lack of knowing whats going on around him can also contribute to temper tantrums. In addition, tantrums are often the result of children’s frustration with the world. Frustration is an unavoidable part of kids’ lives as they learn how people, objects, and their own bodies work.
Well after researching, and putting things into practice I have found some techniques that work well for us and you can use to try and make these episodes a little easier. You just have to have a few techniques in your mummy toolkit to 1. be able on most occasions nip the situation in the bud before the tantrum takes hold, or 2. diffuse the situation while staying cool, calm and collected.
So here are a few tips to help you cope during tantrums:
1. Keep them informed
Inform your toddler what is going to happen next and provide a transition between activities. If you are on the way out, let your toddler know where you are going and what you are going to be doing. Just like adults they like to know what is going on.
Bath time used to be full of tears and tantrums at our house because my toddler wanted to play and not have a bath. Now about 5 minutes before bath time, I preempt what is coming up by giving a count down, “Ok 5 minutes to bath time”, then 3 minutes (which the lights and radio is switched off), then a minute, then “bath time”.
I’m glad to say that he happily walks into the bathroom ready and excited about his bath. You can do this all through the day transitioning between different activities like breakfast, getting dressed, going out, getting ready for nap times and so on.
2. Try a distraction method
Ignore the tantrum and try a distraction method. Take advantage of your little one’s short attention span by offering a replacement for the coveted object or beginning a new activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one. If your child is squirming on the floor screaming for a cookie, continue to talk to them as if you never noticed. Eventually, they will either be distracted and forget or get the hint and stop screaming.
Keep off-limits objects out of sight and out of reach, which will make struggles less likely to develop over them.
And choose your battles: consider the request carefully when your child wants something. Is it outrageous? Maybe it isn’t. Accommodate when possible to avoid an outburst. However if you decide that they can not have something follow through with this. Some parents give in to keep their child quiet but a child learns quickly. Tantrums will continue if they know you will cave.
3. Remain cool, calm and collected
What ever you do remain calm and don’t get stressed because it will make the situation worse. When you scream and they scream the situation is wildly out of control. Stop, take a couple of deep breaths and center yourself. Give yourself a time out if you need it to recenter and refocus. Keep using the same calm voice you use when they are behaving well to get your child to calm down as well.
If you are out don’t worry about what other people are thinking because that is simply going to make you feel stressed. I can pretty much guarantee that if there are other parents around they understand that it is normal toddler behaviors and know exactly how you are feeling. Besides, as a parent, you have many more years of embarrassing situations to look forward to courtesy of your children.
4. Focus on their good behavior and give lots of encouragement
Encourage and praise your toddler when they behave well. Positive reinforcement is better than negative. In the absence of positive attention a child will behave badly just to get some attention at all. Acting out and throwing tantrums may be a cry for attention. Don’t let it get to this point. Encourage them often. This notices their effort and improvement. Clap and celebrate when they go to the potty successfully and when they put away their toys. Good manners such as saying “please” and “thank you” deserve a smile and a hand clap as well. This will teach them that positive behavior makes mummy and daddy happy and proud, and they’ll be eager to do it again and again.
5. Run errands after nap time
Kids get stroppy when they get tired. A toddler misbehaves more often if they are dragged around when they are tired.
6. Carry lots of snacks and water with you
Low blood sugar and thirst can lead to tantrums. If you are out longer than anticipated and lunch or dinner time is close at hand, let them eat a healthy snack to keep their hunger pains at bay and sugar levels stable. And always have a bottle of filtered water on hand.
7. Be consistent with positive discipline
At home, I use the “special quiet place” as opposed to “time out” to deal with a tantrum. This puts a positive, nurturing focus on discipline. Positive time out is designed to encourage children and teach them self-control and self-discipline. It also teaches them the value of taking some quiet time to calm down to enable them to feel better. It is respectful because children are involved in the process (by helping to create a space that will be encouraging) and focuses on the fact that children do better when they feel better. If your child is very young this technique is not recommended unless you have a great attitude and accompany your child to their quiet place. Our “special quiet place” has a comfortable cushion and a special book. It could include a favorite teddy, or a blanket – something which is comforting to your child. In public do the same. Remember to take a calming item with you and sit with your child on a bench for five minutes or take them to the car until they calm down. If you want more guidance on positive discipline you can go here
Just remember that as with everything this is a stage that your little person is going through. You will survive the toddler years. I hope this give you some tips to help get you through this stage.
As always I would love to hear from you. Have you had any success with these techniques? Please leave me a comment down below and let me know what you think.
Yours in Successful Parenting