Wait. Don’t answer that. Temper tantrums are par for the course of toddlerhood. They are a sign of independence. But…that doesn’t mean that they aren’t difficult, challenging, and frustrating for parents.
Through time and experience in motherhood, I’ve come to learn how to anticipate my toddler’s tantrums. Like quiet storms, I, like most parents, can see the first glints of lightning and feel the first drops of rain before disaster strikes. Usually.
If you’re struggling with a temper tantrum-prone toddler, give these strategies a try:
Keep a sense of humor. There’s nothing that makes a toddler’s meltdown worse than a parent’s “bad” response to a tantrum. When your toddler begins to “melt,” take some deep breaths, tell yourself that you can handle whatever storm may come your way, and try not to overreact.
Listen to your child. Usually, or 95% of the time, tantrums are caused by miscommunications. Most toddlers are not able to be as vocally expressive through words to communicate their demands and needs, so to hear them you must pick up on their bodily cues. For instance, if your toddler begins yawning an hour before a planned dinner outing at Olive Garden, know that this probably means they’re tired. And from experience, please know that tired toddler = a disastrous restaurant outing.
Ignore it. When your child is in the thick of a tantrum, the best thing you can do is ignore it. Tell your child that you’re going to do something else that involves you physically leaving the “line of tantrum” or distract them with something else. Of course, if you’re in public, and in an effort to prevent a call for CPS, the latter tactic, or distraction, usually works best.
Watch your body language. Often, we as parents, subconsciously react to our children’s tantrums by tightening our jaws and sweating profusely. Or..wait..is that just me? Okay. Um. Disregard that then. When your toddler is going through a tantrum, relax your body, and think calm thoughts about the ocean or something else lovely.
Play fair and stick to your guns. Most well-rested and well-fed toddlers are reasonable, so long as you agree to play by the rules. So, give them fair warnings and be honest and usually they’ll play along. What does this look like in real life? Well, for instance, if you want them to leave the playground soon, give them fair warning: “Honey, we will need to leave in five minutes.” As the minutes progress, tell them how much more time they have. When their time is up, leave the playground, even if they protest, leave the playground. This will teach your toddler that you mean business and that you care and respect their rights to a fair game.
Do these things and I promise that you’ll find that your toddlers tantrums are a lot more bearable and manageable.
Parents of toddlers: How do you mange your children’s tantrums?