The toddler years...that magical time where you child is learning something new and sometimes frustrating each and every day. It can be bittersweet, with both blessings and major headaches. Feeling super frustrated? Read on for some prime tips in dealing with a mid-tantrum child.
1. Let them work it out themselves
After a few weary weeks of me being in near tears and ready to send this kid back from where he came, I goggled parenting tips for unruly toddlers. While many parenting tips are controversial, this one is tried and true. In the middle of a tantrum, the best thing you can do is let them cry or scream it out. I always tell Nolan, "I know you're upset, and I'll be here ready to talk when you're ready."
As long as he isn't in any immediate danger of setting the house on fire or hurting himself or someone else, I sit in my chair with a book or my phone, and pretend to do something else. Realistically, there's no way I can concentrate with all of that screaming and yelling going on, but he doesn't know that.
And guess what? It's worked for me, every single time. Granted, there may be more tears and yelling an hour from now, but that crisis was averted with no major casualties.
2. Talk about what was bothering them
Personally I've found the most important part of letting him calm down on his own is talking
3. Whatever you do, don't feed into it
I cannot stress this enough...do not feed into it. Sitting there and trying to coddle or cuddle during a tantrum will generally result in more tears. Usually on my end, as those tiny fists are going and the legs are flying. It is upsetting to see your baby hurting, no matter the reason, but letting them see you angry or upset just feeds into their own negative emotions. The first few times the tantrums happened I yelled at him more than I like to admit...which resulted in both of us crying and apologizing to one another later.
4. Try to be truthful when talking about difficult stuff
I'm not saying to tell a toddler age-inappropriate things, but try to be as truthful as possible. When he throws a tantrum because he's mad at me for taking away a toy because he was misbehaving, we talk about it. I tell him exactly what behavior isn't okay, and how we can change it. I then explain what he can do to get said toy back, like picking up the rest of his toys or cleaning his snack up off the floor. If he's upset because his grandparents just left and freaking out about it, I reassure him that they love him and will be back soon. Of course, toddlers can be an unreasonable lot, so sometimes they freak out over absolutely nothing. In that case, I revert back to #2, and we talk about our feelings. I tell him what I do when I'm angry or upset, like counting to ten, talking to a friend, or reading a book with a family member until I calm down.
5. When all else fails, put yourself in time out
If that means calling up your spouse to stay with your toddler for a few minutes while you take a relaxing bath, do it. Just make sure they understand that today might not be a great day. If you're stuck by yourself, taking a minute or two in the bathroom for a quick glass of water can help to even out your own emotions. Not listening to the screaming and crying for even a few minutes can work wonders.
And if you're really at the end of your rope...
Have any tips of your own to share? I'd love to hear them! While we just celebrated his fourth birthday and I'd love to say all of the tantrums have magically gone away...they haven't. But they have gotten easier to deal with, and fewer and farther between. There is a light at the end of the tunnel...thirty years from now when they have their own children and they say, "Mom/Dad, you were right."
One of a frustrated mom's secret weapons
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