Tantrums can be upsetting to a child and embarrassing and for a parent but be aware that they are a normal part of a child’s development. Tantrums often stem from frustration and to understand why your toddler has a meltdown, put yourself in their place. They have intense desires but have not yet mastered the verbal skills to communicate their feelings. The key to taming a tantrum is to not feed into it. Keep your cool and your child will most likely calm down faster. If you are naturally a volatile person it will be easy for your child to trigger an explosion from you, which ultimately will end in a screaming match with no winners. Different techniques will work for different children, based on your child’s temperament. Here are some tips to calm the storm if your toddler is in the middle of a tantrum.
- Keep Calm: Your child is affected by your emotions. If you are frazzled, frustrated or overwhelmed, you child’s tantrum is likely to continue unabated.
- Ignore: This can be extremely difficult especially if it’s not in your nature to do so. Walk away and show your child that their actions have no effect on you. Don’t make eye contact or speak, when your child sees that they are not getting a reaction out of you they will likely stop. Make sure your child is safe before walking away and always stay nearby. If your child is in a full blown tantrum this may not work.
- Use Distractions: If you’re in the supermarket or another public place bring a toy or snack for your child to keep them busy. Let them help you pick groceries that are within their reach so they can enjoy the experience. If the tantrum is inevitable you may have to temporarily leave the store and go back later, many parents have done this!
- Diffuse: Sometimes ignoring is impossible, try soothing your child by rubbing their back, talk in a low quiet voice. Repeating the same phrase over and over such as ‘you’re okay’ can help. If you child is in meltdown mode sometimes repeating of the same phrase will make them calm down and listen. Humour can help too, you can have them ‘shake the sillies out’ or make a funny joke to help them snap out of it.
- Take a time out: For yourself! Sometimes tantrums can make you lose your cool and you need a time out for yourself. If your child is over 18 months put them somewhere safe for a couple of minutes while you take a breather. Having a volatile outburst will only make the situation worse.
- What NOT to do: Don’t yell back at your child as this will only escalate the tantrum. Reasoning with a child while in this mode will not work either as there is no way to get through to them in this moment. Sometimes all you have to do is wait until the storm has blown over.
As frustrating as this phase may seem, the good news is that it won’t last forever. As your child matures and learns how to communicate and express themselves better they will also learn how to handle their emotions.
Written by: Nicola Viau, Co-Owner of Jolie Papeterie Boutique