Toddler tantrums can be frustrating and debilitating for the whole family. The thing to remind yourself is that most small children have tantrums at some point and generally they do grow out of this bad behaviour. Although it may take some time and require a firm parental stance along with some consistent strategies.
So what can you do when there is an impending tantrum looming?
If you can see that a point of contention is going to arise and your toddler is going to turn from that tiny cherub into a screaming banshee then try the following strategies.
- Intercept the tantrum before it starts. Use distraction, or diversionary tactics. Change the subject. Offer an alternative action which is acceptable to you.
- Ask yourself whether you really need to make a stand about this issue.
If another tantrum has kicked off and distraction and diversionary tactics are inappropriate or not working then try the following.
Ignore the behaviour. If you have to intercept to keep the child safe or are in public place where this behaviour is likely to bother other people, passively intercept, but do not show any emotion.
For example remove them from the restaurant, play park – or put your own venue in here. Do not negotiate, do not tell them off – and do not make eye contact. In fact try not to look at your tantrum-ing toddler even if you have to hold him in your arms.
This initially may create even more of a reaction from your toddler. They are crafty little people at times. The only thing which may be worth saying in a quiet low voice while making sure you have eye contact with him is, ” that you will talk to him, but not until he stops being silly”. And keep to your word.
This is important as if you give way and talk to him, you have sent a message which tells him you say one thing and do another.
The rule here is ignore bad behaviour, reward good behaviour. So as soon as he calms down and does what is being asked of him offer lots of praise.
I am not saying that this is easy and it will work immediately. It is most definitely easier said than done. But if you can see the above actions through consistently day after day, week after week, they will work.
By ignoring your toddler he is not getting a reaction. He is also not getting attention either negative or positive. And from your perspective it will not have become a battle of wills between you and your child.
The important thing to remember is to shower your toddler with praise when he does something he does not like or want to do – or that perhaps has been an issue with him in the past.
Remember the rule. Ignore bad behaviour and reward good behaviour.
Maybe your toddler has a point.
Try to see the situation from your child’s point of view. His behaviour may not be acceptable but actually he may have a point or an opinion which is valid.
Many toddler tantrums are out of frustration and the inability for the toddler to communicate and express himself properly.
As I write this, I think of a blog I wrote about a lady who was insistent on washing her toddler’s hair after she had been swimming. She and I were in the changing room and I was witness to grade 1 toddler tantrum.
I could not help thinking would it have been better to have binned washing her toddlers hair until bath time. It was clear that the whole afternoon had been ruined for both of them over the toddler having her hair washed. Don’t sweat the small stuff – it just is not worth it.
Remember don’t let toddler tantrums get you down be consistent, cool and firm. And remember they will grow out of them, although you maybe faced with the teenage version in a few years.