I wrote a post a while ago about toddler tantrums. In my regular blog readings and on twitter, I see so many women struggling with this shitty toddler stage but those years can be wonderful and fun and tantrum free. Here’s what I learned along my journey…………….
When was the last time your kids had a full on tantrum? Can’t remember or was it this morning. Are you one of the lucky ones whose kids don’t do that? If you are, well done you, pat yourself on the back because it’s not luck, you’re doing something right. I don’t subscribe to them, don’t allow them and firmly believe you can get through toddler-hood and beyond without them.
Really? you say, Is it possible? I say ‘Works for me!’
There are some basic principles I learned. First of all you have to be boss, ‘no’ has to mean no and you have to be consistent and follow through every time. Don’t argue with a toddler. You’re grown, they’re not. I have, on occasion, caught myself doing it and I think ,wait, I’m the adult here, why am I arguing with a 2 yo?
Choices are a big red flag to tantrums, little ones need very few choices because they can’t decipher between important and unimportant. In their little minds it’s all important. To you, whether you have the red or blue bowl really doesn’t matter but stopping when told because there’s danger ahead is important. Allowing choices on things comes as they learn to accept whatever they are given, when they can accept that breakfast is cheerios in the blue bowl today then they’re probably ready to start choosing.
They’re flexing their independence muscles to see how they work and you can help them become age appropriately independent with the right guidance but mum and dad still have to make the rules and make sure the rules are followed every time. There’s that consistency thing again!
Clothing is another red flag, we all love our individual style but giving your 4 year old free choice on today’s wardrobe will probably do your head in and make you late for preschool when Sally wants to wear the tutu and sandals in the snow!
By 4 years old there should be some choices. Have a couple of outfit choices. Make it part of the bedtime routine to lay the clothes out for the morning. Offer a couple of things to choose from, not 10. That way they feel like they can express themselves but the morning runs smoother and everyone gets out the door on time and not frustrated.
Anything can be achieved with forethought and planning and if you think ahead then you can help to avoid the meltdowns and before long they won’t even happen.
I’ve seen full on meltdowns in the because a child was told to keep their coat on when the temp was 30f (-2c). UMM..Health, safety, parent- trumps child!
Or so it should.
On some things there’s just no negotiation and you as parent make that call. It might be a safety issue or temperature or you just might be broke on a day the ice cream truck comes crawling by! Who wants to have a scene because you don’t have a $1.00 for an ice cream. My kids don’t even notice the ice cream truck anymore because it’s not an expectation. Sometimes I say would you like one and they are excited and grateful, NOT pouty or stompy because I said no.
*stompy.. my word and I like it. Please feel free to use it 🙂 for freeeee
Don’t negotiate. Its like adding fuel to the fire. I have found ignoring or removing the child with no fuss works great. Reinforce why it’s unacceptable and move on.
Adults can’t think rationally when they’re angry so why on earth do we think a child can articulate why they feel the way they feel. Trying to have a discussion is fruitless. If it’s something you want to talk about then wait until the child has calmed down and then you can hear their side or discuss the problem.
We’ve all seen the youtube videos of the little girl throwing a tantrum in front of the parents but when they don’t engage she moves into their line of sight again and throws herself down. It’s hilarious but you can see that it’s just for attention so don’t give it. When they realise you’re not going to give it any energy it tends to out.
Of course as children get older then a slightly different approach is needed . Although they continue to flex that independence muscle!
Give time warnings, so the kids know what’s coming next. ie We are leaving in 5 minutes, so when you say it’s time to go there’s no meltdown or negotiation, you told them it was time to go, they knew it was coming and had time to prepare.
I can’t stand it when a child comes for a play date and there’s a scene at my door because the child doesn’t want to go home. I make sure that I give verbal warnings so the visiting child knows what to expect. Sometimes I have to leave to do something too so the meltdown makes ME late! It can be very uncomfortable and it’s a totally avoidable situation. I’m sure it must be embarrassing for the other parent too.
To date things have run smoothly in our family and we rarely have any tantrums. Occasionally we have to nip one in the bud however the teenage years are coming and that could be a whole other kettle of fish.
I’m confident though, that through our consistency, (that word again) guidance and lots of love and patience we’ll sail through without too many problems.
How do you cope with your toddler? I’d love to hear from you…….