Some Dos and Don'ts When Dealing With a Toddler Temper Tantrum
10 useful tips for dealing with the infamous toddler tantrum
My baby has just turned 1, and I can’t believe how much she is growing now. It’s almost as if when babies turn 1, they just know that they are supposed to be toddlers now and do toddler things like walking, saying words and developing an independence and personality all of their own. In the last few weeks, my daughter has introduced me to another fine, toddler trait—the tantrum.
Oh yes, the toddler tantrum, that spontaneous fit of fury and flailing that can really catch a mama off-guard, as well as test her nerves. Thankfully, most of my daughter’s tantrums thus far have been short-lived, but she really makes them count. Quality over quantity is her approach. Turns out, there are a lot of things you can do to curb the fits and frustration. Here are some tips that I find particularly useful when dealing with a toddler tantrum.
1. DON’T let them smell your fear.
You may be in the middle of a quiet, public place: a library, a nice restaurant, a fancy store, a Japanese Zen garden. Who knows?? But wherever you happen to be, it’s quiet there, and the other people are enjoying that quiet. And Junior is starting to unravel. You start to get clammy hands, and your shoulder muscles tense up. You can just see the wind up and she’s creating kinetic energy like pre-waterfall waters. STAY CALM. Breathe deeply. Do not start reacting. That will just make your toddler react even more.
2. DON’T look them in the eye.
In other words, don’t acknowledge the tantrum. If your deep breathing didn’t work and she’s blown her lid, carry on like nothing is happening. “Oh, is there a young child screaming, making sounds like a baby, wild boar right now? I hadn’t noticed.” Go about your business, if you can. A sympathetic look or even worse, a frantic or narrow-eyed, ticked-off look will only make it worse. Try distracting him with a change in location or with an impromptu finger puppet show or a sweet, dance move.
3. DO be willing to bounce.
Ignoring the tantrum is great advice if you are not sitting in the middle of dinner at a bustling restaurant. Just because your meal has been disrupted doesn’t mean that everyone else’s around you must be, as well. Take the tot outside or until he calms down.
4. DO get a grip, literally.
Have you ever tried to hold onto a feral animal? Or a cat that is suddenly startled by a vacuum cleaner? Or a large, slippery trout? Holding onto a tantrum-throwing toddler presents a similar challenge. Hold on tight and be prepared for any one of those common, toddler escapist moves—the back arch, the jelly limbs and the Bruce Lee.
5. DON’T enroll your little one in anger management classes, yet.
As pissed off as she may seem, she’s just being a normal toddler. Most children between 1 and 4 have them, and it’s a normal response to frustration or to not getting what they want. Toddlers are learning so much and so quickly about people, things, their feelings and how their bodies work, frustration is sometimes an unavoidable part of their lives. Having a tantrum is a means for them to work through strong emotions, to learn to cope and self-soothe.
6. DO make sure she’s getting enough Zzzzs.
Toddlers are way more prone to having meltdowns when they are tired. Tantrums are less likely to happen when your child is getting enough sleep.
7. DON’T be a sucker.
Sometimes, toddlers cry simply because they can’t have what they want. Do NOT give in to unreasonable toddler demands. It can be tempting, especially when the tantrum is being thrown in public and especially when you are getting disapproving looks from strangers. But never mind those Judge Judies, you just can’t perpetuate and reinforce this type of behavior by caving. As mentioned above, take them outside or leave a busy, public place if you must. Just don’t cave!
8. DO get a hold of yourself!
Don’t feel like a bad parent because your toddler flips out every once in a while. Remember that tantrums are a normal part of development. And it’s OK if you need to take a break from your child while she’s freaking out. Let your spouse or a friend take over or even put junior in his room for a bit. You’re not a bad parent for doing so.
9. DO pay attention.
If you can figure out early on what tends to set off these episodes, you can prevent them. Does it always happen at a certain time of day? Does she tend to have them when she’s hungry? Bored? Try to figure it out, and you can head off those tantrum-causing situations and avoid the tantrum temptresses.
10. DO let your child know you love them.
When the wild animal has become tame again, hug and kiss them, and let them know you love them.
These are quick tips that I’ve found useful. If you need a more comprehensive look at how to tame toddler temper tantrums, read more here.
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