You’ll probably never completely avoid the toddler meltdown scenario, (if you do, myself and every other mom on earth wants to know your secret!) but there are ways to keep them as short and civil as possible. Today, I’ve got a few tips for helping to settle your little one when they start to go off the rails.
Toddlers like to know that we do this in this order, we have our breakfast, we clean the plate, we go to get our shoes on, we go to class. They really do like order. If you can provide a little bit of structure in your toddler’s day, you’re going to find that tantrums minimize, because they know what’s going on. There’s no surprises around that. Okay?
Toddlers also like consistency, so we really need to handle the behavior in the same way every time. The number one mistake people make around tantrums and you won’t even really like to admit that you’ve done this, I know, is that they give in to it. Right? You might think, and I just was on the phone with someone the other day who said, “I hardly ever give in to them.” It’s that hardly ever that’s the problem. It means that, on occasion, you do, right? Really all you’re doing there is reinforcing the behavior.
I always think of it about the gambling addiction. It’s not the winning that gets people addicted to gambling, it’s the infrequency of it, or the randomness of it. If you won every time you sat down at the machine, you get bored eventually and walk away. If you never won, you would never play. It’s that, “Will I win, will I win? Will it work this time?” The same thing will happen with toddlers and tantrums. You’ll find that they do it and they might even start doing it more and more often and you will think to yourself, “It hardly ever works, I very rarely give in,” but it’s the fact that you have given in that keeps the behavior going.
Make a decision today. I will not give in to a tantrum, not ever, and you’ll find that that really helps minimize them as well.
Why do toddlers have tantrums? Why do they do it? Well, it’s always frustration based. If you can minimize the frustration that your child is experiencing, then you will prevent a tantrum and it often has to do with toys or I can’t get my shoes on or this is not going the way I want it to or I’ve asked you for a cookie and you will not give it to me. They’re getting more and more frustrated as this goes on and they really lose the ability to cope at a certain level and they just basically shut down or go into tantrum mode, whatever that looks like for your child. It really varies from child to child.
You really want to minimize. If you see your child getting frustrated around a certain thing or object, distraction works really well. That would be my second tip. The more you can distract a toddler away from whatever is causing the frustration, they’re really easy to distract, so find a new toy or take them for snack time or if they beg you for a cookie, redirect them to going to play with their blocks, for example. Derail it, basically, is a great strategy to use.
What happens if you try all that and you still have a tantrum? It’s going to happen from time to time. Let’s just get really clear and honest around that. I don’t know a toddler who has gone through the toddler years without a tantrum here and there. If it does happen, despite your best efforts, just isolate the child so that they are in a safe environment, try not to give it too much attention. You might just sit with your face turned away so that you’re not reinforcing that, “I will watch you and talk to you while you do this.” Obviously, you want to make sure that they’re safe enough that they’re not going to hurt themselves while they’re doing this.
Don’t try to talk to them when they’re in a tantrum. They’re not hearing you. They do not have the ability to rationally calm down. Just let it ride its course and move on. Move on. You don’t need to sit down for 15 minutes and discuss why they were having a tantrum. It’s gone. It’s over. Let’s just move on. Again, you walk through your day and do your best to prevent it.
If you are in public. I get asked that a lot. “What if he’s tantrumming in public?” Leave, just leave. Just pick him up and leave. Most toddlers, if they realize that tantrumming means, “We have to go,” they’re much less likely to tantrum. If you’re in the store and they’ve been begging for a toy and you’ve said no and now they’re having a fit on the floor, scoop them up and out you go. Even if that means you’re leaving your grocery cart in the aisle. It really is the best way to teach a child that that’s not going to work here. That’s not acceptable here and so we’re going to leave.
All right, so I hope that gives you just a few tips and tricks to use when your child’s entering into a tantrum and hopefully you can prevent at least a few of them. Thanks for watching. Sleep well.
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