When your toddler is in the middle of a war-like tantrum, likely you want to have a meltdown of your own. Don’t feel bad, every parent feels your pain as they secretly think to themselves “better you than me.” While it is easy to lose your cool and turn into a screaming two-year old yourself, there are calmer coping methods you should try out. But first, you have to understand why toddlers have tantrums.
Younger toddlers between the ages of one and two sometimes have a hard time communicating what they need or want, such as more milk, a toy they can’t reach, or a diaper change. Older kids ages three and four have a sense of empowerment and throw tantrums if you are not complying with their desire to have power. Maybe the child just wants attention or is hungry, tired or uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, frustration is a part of their lives that is unavoidable. As toddlers’ brains are still developing, they don’t have full awareness of self control, so it is your job as the parent to guide them through their tantrum – without throwing one of your own. So how do you tame such outbursts of frustration? Here are three tantrum calming tactics to help you and your child get through it:
1) Ignore the fuss. During the moments your child is throwing a tantrum, your he has lost control to reason. Children learn by watching your actions, so if you stay calm, the child will likely calm down too. Once the child is calm, you can discuss what happened and how he can behave better the next time he’s upset. Teach him to use words to express his feelings, show ways to politely ask for things he wants, and praise him once he has calmed down. This also shows the toddler that he will not be allowed to disturb others and that his parents will listen to him when he’s quiet.
2) Empathize and play detective. Your child’s meltdown stems from frustration, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. Your child sometimes needs help getting through this tough time. When you see he’s beginning to get frustrated, get down to eye level with your child and let him know you understand why he’s upset. For example, “I know you are upset I am not buying that toy for you right now, but when we get home, we will find one of your favorite toys to play with. Which one is your favorite?” If you don’t know what the meltdown is about, encourage him to tell you what is wrong so you might can help him. When your child knows you care, it will help him feel more secure in dealing with his feelings.
3) Hug it out. With all the tears, screaming and kicking, hugging him may be the last thing you want to do, but it really can help settle your child. Give your child a firm hug, but don’t say anything as it will just turn into a battle of wills until he calms down. A hug gives your kid a feeling of security by letting him know you care even if you don’t agree with the behavior. Sometimes your child just needs a safe place to get out internal emotions – in your embrace.
So next time a tantrum creeps up on you, try one (or all) of these tactics and you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. For more baby and toddler news, tips and advice, subscribe to Baby and Toddler Examiner.