How to tame toddler tantrums and meltdowns
As your little one gets older, there are so many fun developments and skills they will learn like talking, dancing, or singing. However, one not-so-fun stage is tantrums. While you’re in the toddler trenches, it can be really stressful to navigate, especially when they decide to put on an award-winning performance in the middle of the supermarket. We see you and we feel you because we’ve all been there!
It’s no joke that toddler tantrums are not for the faint of heart and will seriously test you as a parent. Hands up if you’ve googled ‘How do I deal with my two-year-old’s tantrums?’ several times a week? Meltdowns are normal but it’s also normal that you want to try to tackle them quickly and in the right way before you have one yourself!
Here are some tips to help you manage your toddler’s tantrum.
1. Know where they come from
Try your best to assess when and how your little one gets the most irritable. Is it when they don’t get a special toy or extra time to play at night? They are usually increasingly upset when they’re told that they can’t do something they so badly want to. Information is power so start by noticing the cues and signs.
2. Remain calm
It’s easy to start freaking out while they are. Adding yelling or crying to the fire will only make the tantrum worse. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself to not take it personally. This is definitely easier said than done so just try your best!
3. Try humour
Distracting them can sometimes be the best bet. It’s likely their emotions are heightened because of one thing, so trying to show them something else will help. Attempt cracking a joke or switching up the activity.
4. Be consistent
Demonstrating what to expect when they start acting that way is key. Don’t go from coddling them back to happiness then taking toys away the next. Figure out a strategy that works for you and stick to it. Let them know what behaviour is acceptable repeatedly and don’t stray from reminding them.
5. Don’t give in to quick fixes
If you’ve set up some rules in your house such as no screen time after dinner, don’t change this to appease them. You might be tempted to reward them with screen time if they’re blowing up but don’t confuse them with the rules.
6. Give them some love
Sometimes people just need a good hug. Your little one might be over-exhausted or stimulated and really just want a bit more attention from you. That way you can get to the core of what’s wrong and comfort them.
7. But also, don’t indulge it
Your child might just be looking for attention and won’t stop from any of your attempts. In moments like this, you just have to let them go through the hurricane and come out the other side on their own.
As tough as tantrums can be, take a moment (and a deep breath!) to try and think about what might be going on in your child’s world that’s causing them to behave this way. It can make a world of difference.
Kiindred’s child and family psychologist Jaimie Bloch suggests setting limits to help your child problem-solve and learn what is acceptable and what isn’t. Once they are calm, talk to them about what happened, be curious, for example, ‘Hmm, that looked like you had a really big feeling before. I wonder if that was sadness? I’m not sure, what do you think?’
Then be sure to reiterate to them that all feelings are ok but certain behaviours are not. For example, ‘I can see how angry you are with your sister. It’s ok to be angry but it’s not ok to hit’.
Tantrums are a normal part of your child’s development but if you’re wondering ‘when should I be worried about toddler tantrums?’ you may want to seek professional advice if your child’s tantrums are violent, last longer than 15 minutes and occur several times a week.
Toddler tantrums aren’t easy but remember, our little people are just like us. They can’t be happy all the time and it’s totally normal to feel a whole range of emotions on any given day. Let them know they are safe are loved, and always encourage an open dialogue around their feelings.
How to encourage good behaviour
5 tips for helping children understand differences