Toddlers and tantrums are inevitable. It forms part of every child’s development and is a natural response to everything from being over-tired to frustrated. These tantrums are often the subject of tongue-in-cheek ads and television with hapless parents unsure on how to soothe this little cyclone of emotion. Well, we’re here to tell you tantrums can be tamed.
We’ve put together some top tips on how to avoid, deal with, and prevent tantrums in the future. So the next time your little cherub starts to kick up a fuss, try out these techniques and find the answer for your child’s needs.
How to Avoid Toddler Tantrums
First and foremost, prevention is better than cure.
Taking precautions before going out to the shops or anywhere else that could overwhelm your child is a great place to start. Routine and rhythm are key. Tantrums are often caused by children being hungry or tired so timing your trips to the shops to match your little one’s routine is a must. Obviously, this can’t always be the case but try as much as possible to structure time in new environments with a well-rested, well-fed toddler.
Another way to get your toddler excited for a trip out is to give them some control and responsibility. Let them choose what shoes to wear out or involve them in the shopping process by asking them ‘what cereal would you like?’ These little exercises in choice and freedom will give your toddler a sense of self-assurance and help them realise they are still your focus, even while out.
Toddlers can become bored or irritable on trips out in public. Keep them focused and entertained with songs, books, games or anything else that will engage them. Distracting them early can stop a tantrum brewing and give you and your child a chance to bond over a family outing. Another top tip is to keep your errands to as short a time as possible. Now, you can’t predict queues or other hold ups but cutting time wherever possible is likely to shorten your time in this unknown environment and save you from having to console a walking, talking tantrum.
Finally, sticking to rules can instil positive behaviour in your little one. For example, you could explain to your toddler how if they behave while out, you’ll let them pick a snack to take home as a treat. Stick to these rules and praise them for good behaviour.
Dealing with Toddler Tantrums
Tantrums can happen anywhere and any place. How you react to them can shape when, where and how often your little one will react in the future. Again, prevention is better than cure so the more prepared your daily routine is, the better. Regular meals, naps, baths and bedtimes are brilliant for kids who thrive on structure. Mix in various activities throughout the day to allow your child to relax and decompress. Quiet time like reading can work wonders as can bouts of activity like running around outside or dancing to music.
Once you’ve got your routine down pat, give your little one some agency. This is an exciting time of discovery for them so allowing them to choose what to wear, read, play with etc. is a must. A child that is put upon and dictated to is more likely to turn to tantrums so be aware of how you act around your child too.
However, even with planning your day can get turned upside down. Sometimes children just need to let it out and it can’t be helped. This is where a cure comes into play.
Distractions and diversions are a great tool. A new activity, toy, song, game or location can stop a tantrum before it reaches full meltdown.
For minor tantrums try ignoring them. Rewarding this cry for attention will just reinforce them in the future. Carry on with your day or move to another room to show you aren’t interested in communicating this way. Often, parents are the ones to start losing their cool so try to keep tabs on yourself and take a few breaths.
If ignoring the tantrum isn’t working you can also try an ultimatum. Give your child a countdown or tell them that it’s enough. If they calm down, praise them and give them plenty of cuddles to show that good behaviour is rewarded.
For major tantrums make sure your child is in a safe space with nothing they could hurt themselves with. Speak calmly and quietly and let them know you are there for them. You can also try holding them close, preferably with eye contact. The truth about tantrums is that every now and then you’ll just have to weather the storm so stick to your routines and take these episodes in your stride.
How to Deal with Tantrums in Public
One of a parent’s worst nightmares is to deal with a tantrum in public. In a restaurant or shop, it can feel like everyone around you is judging you. Try to stay calm and focus on you and your child. By dedicating your energy to dealing with your child you can get back to normal and carry on with your day. If absolutely necessary, you can always pick up your child and move to somewhere away from the public gaze.
Stepping Stones Day Nursery is committed to helping your little one develop in a happy, safe and enjoyable environment. We believe it takes a village to raise a child and we provide each and every child with support, education, enrichment and entertainment. To book a visit or get a free trial session contact us today. We love nothing more than helping young families grow.