The terrible twos, threenagers. Toddlers are an absolute delight, they say they darndest things and are so adorable. But then there is the other side. The tantrums, the frustration.
Even generally well behaved toddlers have their moments, it’s all part of their development. It certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t like you, just that they are having a hard time understanding or expressing.
Tantrums at home can be awful, and tantrums in public can be embarrassing and stressful. Rest assured, anyone who has had children will relate, and will be feeling your discomfort.
So, what is the best way to deal with these outbursts?
Make a conscious effort to stay calm. Yelling at your little one to stop their tantrum not going to help the situation. Try to remember that their outburst is often due to their inability to express themselves, or their inability to understand why they can’t always get what they want.
Try kneeling down to their level, and asking if they need a hug, hold them until they are calm, then try to talk to them and discuss their issue (if they even know what their issue is, often they don’t)
If they tantrum because they haven’t gotten their own way, rather than straight out saying ‘no’ to their request, give them alternative options.
For example, if they want a piece of candy right before bedtime, and you would rather they didn’t, try saying that candy is not for bedtime, but they can choose to instead have either a glass of milk, or a cracker. Giving them a choice of other options rather than simply shutting down their request usually gets a much better response.
Like a lot of my advice, I’m going to stress that consistency is key.
For example, if while at the supermarket and your little one is inclined to pick up a chocolate at the check-out counter (have you noticed these are always at toddler height – stores definitely do this on purpose!) if last week you said yes to the chocolate, and this week you say no, they will be confused and not understand why.
I also suggest you choose your battles. What I mean by this is sometimes it is just easier, (and better for your sanity!) to let your little one ‘get away’ with something to avoid a tantrum. For example, if they have asked for a drink of milk, and you have given it to them in their red cup, but they start having a meltdown because they wanted their green cup, sometimes it is just easier to swap the cup over and avoid the tantrum altogether.
One other thing to consider is if your toddler is overtired, resulting in more irrational behaviour.
It can be easy to forget that a morning full of activities can really tire a toddler out. Try to schedule in some quiet time each day. There are great educational programs on TV, don’t feel bad for sitting them down in front of the TV for some time out.
So take a deep breath, try to use positive language, be consistent and try to understand their difficulty in dealing with their emotions and expression.