Today we have this fantastic post all about dealing with them from the lovely BattleMum
5 top tips for dealing with toddler tantrums.
Unfortunately, tantrums are part and parcel of having children. You show me one child that hasn’t had a few in their little lives. Even the best-behaved children have them from time to time and we, as parents, have to accept this fact.
I have had to deal with many, from low-range tantrums because our son wanted to close the dishwasher to a full on screaming meltdown because I dared to put his post-nursery snack on the wrong plate. How was I supposed to know he wanted his Mickey Mouse plate instead of Thomas the Tank Engine?
I have a few tips for dealing with toddler tantrums. Some may work, some may not, but these are the ones I employ when our son goes off on one.
1. Distract them. There are certain situations at home when I know a tantrum could manifest itself and during these times I do my best to distract our son, so it doesn’t happen. For instance, if I switch off the TV before bedtime I always have something else to do in reserve, so he will hopefully not notice it going off such as getting his George teddy bear and his dummy ready, when he had one. Distraction can also work during minor tantrums. Our son often helps me unload the washing machine but once the clothes are hung he’ll often want to put them back in. If I say no, he might kick off, so I ask him to help me with something else. If Mr. Independent thinks there is something else he can ‘help with’ the tantrum usually dissipates.
2. Talk to them. This can either be used to distract them or to try find out what it is they want or what is upsetting them. Sometimes our son gets a thought in his head and if he can’t do it/find it he kicks off. He also sometimes gets frustrated that he cannot relay what it is he wants, and this can sometimes set him off. I find if I get down to his level, hold his hands, make eye contact and speak to him calmly, he’ll try his best to tell me what it is he wants. It often turns out to be a toy he put down in the morning that he suddenly remembers and wants again. Also, gently talking to them during a tantrum such as “I know you are tired, I’m sorry we were out so long” can help calm them down if you remain calm and talk to them in a gentle voice. We don’t give toddlers enough credit for understanding more than they can say.
3. Avoid situations where they can arise. This may not always be possible and continuing from my first point there are things I avoid to prevent tantrums. I don’t eat or drink anything in front of our son that I don’t want him having, such as chocolate. This might sound mean, but sugar has a big effect on him. I don’t force him to eat when he doesn’t want to, and I let him decide if he’s had enough at meal times. I try to let him choose his own bedtime stories to avoid tantrums then. I also try to make the minimal fuss before bedtime, sticking to our routine as much as possible. Little things like this have helped me avoid some tantrums, some but not all.
4. Let them have the tantrum. Sometimes you just have to let them get on with it. We must remember that toddlers don’t yet understand their emotions, let alone know how best to deal with them and sometimes you just have to let them get it out of their system. We all know the benefits of having a good cry and the same can be said of toddlers. If we get to this stage I do one of three things. A. Walk away from our son. B. Stay silent but in the same room. C. Sit silently near him if he’ll let me. Once he’s calmed down he’ll usually come in for a cuddle, and it never lasts more than a few minutes.
5. Mimic them. This is either used as a last resort in our house or if the tantrum is a mini one. Copying him sometimes shocks him into silence with the confusion of what mum is doing. But be warned, this can have the opposite effect so use it wisely and sparingly. When it works in a positive effect we usually end up laughing together and the tantrum is gone and forgotten about.
These are by no means the only ways of dealing with toddler tantrums but are the ones I’ve used to try to avoid or stop them in their tracks. I’ve used them since our son was one and a few are still valid even today, aged 4. These have worked best for us between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. I’ve found as he gets older, talking to him and getting down to his level have been most effective, as has distracting him. And although the tantrums continue today, they are much fewer and far between than in previous years as we can communicate with one another better. I doubt they’ll ever fully stop as the pre-teen and teenage years are yet to come.
Thank you for this brilliant post! I will definitely be trying some of these out on Freddie! Most of his tantrums are normally about James going to school!!