Your once angelic baby has become a defiant and temperamental toddler throwing increasingly regular tantrums. The key to coping with this stage is to keep your cool. But how are you meant to do that? Read on…
It’s the most oft-discussed toddler issue – tantrums. Yet, despite the fact that everyone knows that most little ones will throw a tantrum at some stage (many might throw one or two daily), when you’re confronted with a flailing, screaming, kicking ball of toddler anger, it can be hard to recall all those well-meaning tips passed on to you when your child was still cherubic.
The key to coping and getting through this emotionally-charged experience is first and foremost for parents to keep their head and their cool (yep, easier said than done when your 3-year-old decides to throw a tantie at the walk lights of a busy road, or when you’re trying to feed a fractious newborn). So, once you’re calm, here are the tried-and-tested steps.
1. Make sure they’re safe
An angry toddler will not notice the traffic, stairs or other dangers and may need to be gently moved to a safer area to let off steam.
2. Identify the trigger
Most tantrums are caused by frustration, tiredness and even hunger. Some experts suggest keeping a tantrum diary, if your little one is constant thrower, otherwise try to sense ahead what’s going to set them off, don’t attempt major outings or activities when they’re tired and keep the carbs up but steer clear of the junk food.
3. Create a diversion
If your little is on the verge of a meltdown, try to divert his attention with a song, a different toy, a snack or moving locations.
4. Listen and try to understand
– but forget about reasoning. If your toddler is already frustrated, screeching across the noise he is already making will only make matters worse. Sometimes just trying to interpret the cause of their outburst can help you find a solution. But remember it’s impossible to reason with an irrational toddler (or adult, for that matter).
5. Don’t be embarrassed
Most kids will have a tantrum in a public place at some stage. Experts say parents should not let embarrassment make them give in or try to placate their child with a bribe. But in the real world of a little one playing dead ants in the shopping centre, you should do what works for you, and don’t be embarrassed.
6. Provide comfort
Some tantrums can be diffused by a big mummy hug. Other kids may need some time alone to calm down. The advice here is to get to know what calms your savage beast.
7. Breathe through it
– because it’s a phase that passes… eventually (and then they become teens).
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This article was written by Fiona Baker, former editor in chief of Mother & Baby, Pregnancy & Birth and Wondertime magazines for Kidspot, New Zealand's best resource for pregnancy and parenting.
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