The dreaded yet usually unavoidable toddler tantrum. Also known as: meltdown; emotional overburden; “Where did my adorable child go?!” Whatever you want to call it, we have all been there. I’m sure you’ve experienced tantrums, too. To make matters worse, they frequently happen at the most inconvenient times, don’t they? Why not allow them to occur and let the child get his ‘big feelings’ out rather than trying to avoid them altogether? Here are a few steps to take to help calm your child before, or after, a tantrum.
10 Tips for a Toddler Tantrum
- Take ten steps. When they’re on the verge of a toddler tantrum, urge your youngster to take ten steps. Even go along with them for the first few times! You can even try calling it “big elephant strides” or “quiet ballerina steps” at other times, as well as “little birdie steps.” Encourage them to count with you as you take the steps. This is a great mindfulness technique to calm down so that after you can talk about the feelings that are building up.
- Say a rhyme. Who doesn’t love a good rhyme? Not only will it encourage language development, but it will also focus their mind on something entirely different that requires them to process information. This can be beneficial when you rhyme words connected to behaviors. It’s important after you see your child’s previously boiling blood settle, that you hear their concerns and get to the bottom of their feelings and unmet needs.
- Dance! Dancers, as well as little kids in distress, adore an eight-count. Life is all about dancing through the rain, even when the rain is on the verge of a thunderstorm. Encourage your child’s love of movement and have them create their own recital! The imagination of a child has limitless potential. This is a great outlet for built up energy or anger.
- Listen to music. Turning on some of your favorite tunes can be a fun way to redirect negative energy before it turns into a toddler tantrum. Music soothes the soul, after all. For older kids they may choose to put on heads phones and have alone time in their room until they’re ready to talk. We all need time to ourselves; so respect that and wait until they come back to you.
- Eat some food. We all get hangry sometimes. Recognizing when that is why your child is upset is an important parenting skill. Offering food can quickly turn their blood sugar around in the right direction.
- Read a book about feelings. Children aren’t born ready to explain their feelings. We have to teach them how to handle and appropriately express big emotions. Books are a great option because children can relate to the characters in the book and often are more open to talking after processing it all.
- Be present and available! Sit down on their level to show them that they aren’t alone and you are there when they need a hug. Children need to be told it’s alright to express their feelings. Of course, address what started the tantrum and how to repair the mistake that caused it afterward. A tantrum is a necessary explosion of built up emotions. Don’t make them bottle it up. If they need to explode, make sure they are in a safe place and allow them to let it out. If you are in public, move to the side and remind yourself that all parents go through this.
- Give Choices. If you see your toddler getting upset over what seems to be the need for control, now is the time to offer choices. Give choices that you are okay with, but allow them to feel empowered with decision making. Let’s say it’s lunch time but they don’t want to sit in their booster seat/ highchair. Is it such a big deal if you offer sitting at the counter or a picnic on the floor that afternoon?
- Remember how old they are. Your child is young. At this period in their lives, tantrums are normal. Children are just finding out about emotions and how to experience them, process them, and communicate them. So, let them. Accept the high-pitched screaming and tearful wailing, within reason of course. Listening to their tiny footsteps stomping and fists pounding is a must. Take a big breath in. Now exhale slowly. Three, two…
- Suggest a book or snuggle in the calm down corner. A calm down corner is the opposite of time-out. It is a welcoming, relaxing spot in the house that a child can feel comfortable going to before their body spirals out of control.
Celebrate! You Made It!
So, at the end of the day it’s all about how you can turn a bad moment into something good, and maybe even teach a lesson in the process. We know the struggle but using these helpful tips can make all the difference. To learn more about positive discipline techniques, check out our online class: Positive Parenting for Positive Caregivers. In addition, reach out to Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny to hire a trained and trustworthy nanny.