Of the million and one joys that being a parent of a toddler might bring you, toddler’s temper tantrums are probably nowhere near the top of the list. Or even the bottom. Or even part of that list altogether.
Temper tantrums are, of course, one of the inevitable realities you have to put up with as a parent. But you probably thought that they simply happened to other parents. After all, you’re bringing your child up correctly. To be polite. Well-mannered. Calm. Patient.
The fact is that tantrums are an entirely natural reaction for a toddler, regardless of your best intentions. Unpleasant as they might be, your child is attempting to communicate their displeasure and frustration in the only way they know how—instinctually, untempered by reason or patience.
How to manage your toddler’s temper tantrums?
Both reason and patience are learned, not innate. And they don’t occur overnight. They take time to develop. And until they do, you’re stuck with the high pitched shrieking and an endless torrent of tears.
But there are ways for you as a parent to soften the blow. There’s no one simple formula to diffuse your toddler’s temper tantrums. It’s a question of their own temperament, something that no two toddlers share. But there are methods that have been proven effective. Here’s seven of the more tested ways to keep your toddler’s temper firmly in check.
1. Ignorance Can Be Bliss
This might be one of the hardest lessons to learn about coping with your toddler’s tantrums. After all, trying to keep calm and collected when your child is throwing a fit in the supermarket aisle can require an almost superhuman test of patience. But toddlers have a peculiar logic. By throwing a tantrum, they’re attempting to get your attention by diverting you from whatever it is you’re doing. By playing dumb, you get the upper hand. Use it wisely, and they’ll eventually wear themselves out.
2. Don’t Cave In
Your toddler knows exactly what they want when they’re in full-blown tantrum mode, and they’re depending on you to meet that demand. But a good part of your role as a parent is being as much a figure of authority as you are a teacher. Stand your ground. This isn’t a negotiation, but a reaction. Let it play itself out, and eventually they’ll realize these sort of strong arm tactics aren’t really all that persuasive.
3. Whisper To A Scream
There’s not a thin line between firmness and softness when dealing with a tantrum. In fact, they’re both two sides of the same coin. Your child is depending on you to nurture them as much as to provide boundaries and guidance. Soft, soothing sounds have a tranquilizing effect, particularly on younger toddlers. It’s a trait of children to naturally mimic their parents, and the calmer and more placid your words, the more they’ll follow your lead.
4. Repeat As Necessary
One of the chief practices of learning is repetition. You need to make your requests as clear and unambiguous as possible—and as often as possible. There can’t be any confusion as to why your child can’t have their favorite treat. And there can’t be any confusion as to why a tantrum is inappropriate. Reason, as we said, is learned. Not only does repetition help break down resistance, it sends a clear message to a toddler that you are not easily swayed.
5. Distract To Relax
But repetition is built into the human nervous system, and that’s something your toddler’s already aware of. That’s why they’re throwing a tantrum—in order to distract you. Fight distraction with distraction. Remember that toddlers have extremely short attention spans. By pointing out an entirely different object (a new box of cereal in the supermarket or a chirping bird, for example), you’re helping to divert their attention from their own task at hand. Which means you can go on with yours.
6. Hugs Not Shrugs
If your child’s meltdowns have grown physical, there’s a good chance they’re hoping you’ll simply walk away. But they’ll also need reassurance that no matter how aggressive their behavior, they still have your unconditional love. Fight them with kindness. Show them that while you can’t possibly give them everything in the world, they’ll still have your support and security. The simple act of hugging can sometimes express more than words ever can.
7. An Ounce Of Prevention
Chances are, your child is triggered into tantrums during very specific occasions. Visits to the doctor. Supermarket trips. Even visits to relatives. Let them know ahead of time what you’re planning, what they can expect and why it’s not going to be as unpleasant as they might think. Any time a toddler confronts an unfamiliar environment, there’s the potential for confusion, and that’s often the trigger for meltdowns. But the more they’re exposed to that environment, the more accustomed they’ll grow. Reassure them that it’s not so strange or frightening ahead of time, and the confusion they’re confronting will eventually cease.
Learn more about how to manage your toddler’s temper tantrums by consulting Handprints Academy. Visit us and enroll your kids with us!