‘Toddler and tantrum’ are two words that can run off our tongues as easily as ‘bacon and eggs’ or ‘salt and pepper’. They naturally go together! Avoid these mistakes when dealing with toddler tantrums and learn how best to calm the situation.
Don’t miss the chance to have your say! We’re looking for parents to get involved and give their feedback on all aspects of family life. Find out more here.
When your toddler has a tantrum, often you find yourself facing an avalanche of unwarranted advice from family, friends or even strangers – most of which won’t be what your child needs.
Your child does need for you to be calm and in control of the situation. These expert tips will help you deal with your child’s temper tantrums, no matter how intense (and loud!) they may become.
You May Also Enjoy 8 Top Tips For Dealing With an Older Child’s Tantrum
Toddler Tantrums – and How NOT to Deal With Them
#1. Don’t Ignore your Toddler
Ignoring includes pretending the tantrum isn’t happening, leaving the room, or walking away.
A young child having a tantrum is in emotional distress. He needs your calm presence to regain his equilibrium. Ignoring your toddler is experienced by him as abandonment – at a time your child needs you most.
#2. Don’t Laugh at Him
Would you like to be laughed at when you’re feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed?
There is a brief window before meltdown happens when the rising emotion and energy can sometimes be diverted into laughter, that can defuse a stressful situation. But a helpful interaction is always about laughing with your toddler – not laughing at your toddler.
#3. Don’t Have a Tantrum Too
Whether it’s a genuine meltdown or a mock of your child’s tantrum. You, as the parent, are the adult. Your child is out of control. She needs to know someone has a handle on the situation when she has ‘lost it’. Your child needs you to model mature behaviour.
You May Also Enjoy 10 Top Tips for Surviving Toddler Tantrums
#4. Don’t Tell Her to ‘Be Good’ or to Behave Herself
At that moment she is behaving herself as best she can. Your child’s brain is still under construction. When you tell her to ‘be good’ you are giving her a sense that, right now, she is ‘bad’. She’s not bad, she’s overwhelmed.
Imagine how you would feel if in moment of distress and tears your loved ones told you to ‘behave’ or to ‘be good’, rather than calming and comforting you in your distress.
#5. Don’t Take Him Literally
If your child tell you he hates you, don’t respond by telling him you love him. It’s not helpful because you’re taking literally what he is saying, instead of listening to what your child is trying to express with his limited vocabulary.
When he says, ‘I hate you’, he probably means, ‘I hate how you are being right now.’
And perhaps he has a point. Stop and check in with yourself whether you are rushed, being over-insistent over a no-big-deal matter, or behaving in some other way that might be pushing your child’s button unnecessarily. (If so, rein in your own behaviour and apologise for it).
His ‘I hate you’ might mean he hates the limit that you are setting right now. And that’s okay – that’s part of life that can be hard for a toddler to adjust to.
You May Also Enjoy How to Avoid Getting Caught In a Power Struggle with Your Toddler
What Is Helpful When Your Toddler Has a Tantrum?
We all know how stressful a toddler’s meltdown can be, particularly when it happens in public.
But it’s not actually his tantrum that wrecks our head. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about the child’s behaviour that wreck our heads. Have you ever reacted to your child’s tantrum with any of these thoughts?
- ‘What will other people think?’
- ‘My child’s turning into a brat!’
- ‘I can’t control him.’
- ‘She’s defiant.’
- ‘She’s going to end up in big trouble one day.’
None of those thoughts are true. They are figments of your imagination running as wild as your child’s tantrum.
When your toddler has a tantrum, don’t believe those crazy thoughts; it will only get you more wound up. Stay in the present. Focus on your breathing and choose to stay calm. Remember, when you steady your breathing, you steady your thoughts.
You May Also Enjoy 20 Tips for Avoiding Toddler Tantrums at the Supermarket
Have your say! Are toddler tantrums getting you down? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!