Toddler tantrums, seems to be the latest buzz word and every parent feels dreaded by the “terrible twos”. In reality though, it will be helpful if we stop labeling our children and scrutinizing their behavior. It helps instead, to focus on how we can help them during those mood swings and difficult times!
When it comes to handling tantrums, we need to understand the most important thing – we cannot take our children’s behavior personally. We often feel that children act out, so that they can test our patience. But in reality, they aren’t giving us a hard time but are having a hard time! (Deep, isn’t it?).
Here, in this article I am going to share my top 7 easy to follow strategies (or should I say tricks that we can “try” to follow!)
1. Based on your child’s age - you will have to find different ways to cope with their fits and help them through the hard times. For younger children, it might mean meeting their basic needs (check for hunger, thirst, sleep). For toddlers, distractions / redirections / giving alternatives often work. For older children, it might help to acknowledge their feelings - it’s like giving a “name” to their feelings! (E.g. I understand you are sad that we cannot go down to play now. It must be so frustrating. How about you play with blocks or paint while I finish my kitchen work, and then we go out?).
2. Offer choices – this works for children who are able to verbally communicate. E.g. During those grumpy mornings offer them choices e.g. would you like to brush your teeth first or use the potty? Would you like to brush your teeth with the pink toothbrush or the green?
3. Set a predictable routine - E.g. If you feel your child gets cranky in the evenings, try having an evening routine – e.g. outdoorsy play, come back home, bath, eat dinner, brush , bedtime stories – whatever really works for you and your family!
4. Harness their never ending energies into something productive – many children can get cranky if they aren’t engaged at home (I am not saying you need to entertain a child all day long but it is important to keep some interest led toys or activities for the child to explore). Try to bond with your child by doing some fun activities together – it can be outdoorsy play, colouring or a fun craft work!
5. Choose your battles wisely – this is more for our sanity than anything else. Children can sometimes have strange demands and if we say a “no”, they are more likely to feel upset. So give into their suggestions as long as you know it isn’t in any way bad / harmful for your child. E.g. If your child insists on wearing a pink top over an orange pant, that’s perfectly ok!
6. Think of your favorite calm-down strategies! You know your child the best. So think of ways your child can be calmed when he is having a hard time. It can be a cuddle or just reassuring them that you are around or maybe just taking them outdoorsy etc. I am not saying this will work every time. But you surely will feel upbeat and motivated to keep trying and not give up!
7. Help them feel better / capable – e.g. if your child spills a glass of milk, involve him to clean up the spill instead of shaming him / having a go at him. Teach your kid in simple ways, how to rectify the mistakes instead of making it all dramatic.
I am not saying this will work 100%. We need to be patient and persistent. And there will be times when we will lose our cool, feel guilty and feel as a failure parent! (well, that’s completely fine and normal). Just start from where you left, each time!
Remember, that our ultimate aim /goal of helping a child during a tantrum is not just to diffuse the situation temporarily, but to make them realize that we love them and we are there for them no matter what! It is our way of shaping our children to be kind, compassionate humans. And this really starts with how we treat our children when they need us the most!
I would recommend two really amazing books for a more detailed read:
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber
- No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel
Starting January I am going to start a project on my FB community, where we will have a weekly discussion on respectful parenting and practical ways of helping our children through the difficult time.
Explore the entire collection of articles: Toddler Learning
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