If you’ve ever wondered how to deal with toddler tantrums, we have the answer for you—very carefully. Yes, that’s a joke, but it does have some truth in it. The toddler stage can be trying for a mom, as her baby turns into a little person who has preferences, a desire for independence, and the ability to express him or herself. The best approach to toddler tantrums is one that’s not reactionary, spur of the moment, or born of fatigue or frustration.
1. Stay calm.
When your toddler has a temper tantrum, rule one for moms is to stay calm. If we snarl at our child or yell at her to “calm down,” it likely will make things worse. Try to identify the source of the tantrum. Is your child tired? Put her to bed. Is she frustrated that her blocks keep falling down? Give her a hug and help her rebuild. Does she want her own way? Explain why your answer is no and then move on. Is she just trying to get your attention? Ignore her.
If your child’s temper tantrum continues, tell her, “I want to help you feel better. So when you calm down, I will talk with you and help you.” And go ahead and start studying these wise words you should say when your child talks back.
2. Stand your ground, even in public (if you can).
You’ll still stay calm and try to identify the source of the tantrum and act accordingly. But since you’re in a public place, ignoring a tantrum can be difficult. Still, if you can stand the stares of others, and your child isn’t disturbing someone’s workspace, don’t give in. Instead, move your child from the public place, if you can. Take him to your car or a private area and talk to him. “It seems you’re upset because… you can’t have a piece of candy, you can’t get out of the grocery cart, you are tired. But we are going to stay right here until you calm down.” If he really is out of control and you’re about to lose your cool, go home and let him rest or have his tantrum until he tires.
If your child is at the beginning stages of a toddler tantrum, try redirecting her behavior. If she picks up something she shouldn’t, offer an explanation and a distraction, “That’s Mommy’s, and it’s not for little hands. Here, you can play with _________ instead.”
A distraction we love if your child’s toddler tantrum is a cry for more mom time is reading to your child. Here are some great toddler books to check out.
4. Prevent it.
Life with a toddler always holds the possibility of a tantrum, so make tantrum prevention part of your strategy. If you know he’s cranky in the afternoons, run errands earlier in the day. If passing by the toy aisle at Target is his surefire trigger for a meltdown, choose the route by paper products instead.
5. Praise progress.
You can begin weaning your child from toddler tantrums with praise. If you want to nix temper tantrums at the grocery store, sing your child’s praises when she makes it through your next shopping trip without one and reward her with a treat. If she accepts your no without a meltdown, celebrate her success. Reward the good behavior more than the unacceptable behavior.
What’s your toddler discipline advice?