Does this sound like a known territory? Every parent goes through this phase of a toddler and no discussion could be left without mentioning how difficult it is to manage toddler tantrums. Especially when it’s in public, it’s like heaven is broken on your head and it’s a complete chaos for parents. This is very common, yet a challenging aspect of upbringing and child’s development. Dreaming of becoming parents is very comforting, you imagine yourself playing with your kids, dancing to the tunes of your favourite music, teaching them, holding those cute little hands and putting them to sleep patiently. Perhaps you did not plan or think of trying to control their anger or calm down an inconsolable toddler.
It can be very disheartening for many parents. Needs of their child which they could fulfil earlier with ease, become a huge task at later ages. It can be confusing for parents to understand the sudden inability to keep their child happy. Especially when your toddler decides to throw tantrums in public, you feel like going under a cocoon and never come out of it to face other parents around. It’s natural to feel embarrassed by your child’s behaviour and your inability to control the fit thrown by your toddler is like an icing on top of it. In most cases we feel judged by others around, someone who is a parent might sympathise with you and feel that you are one on the hot seat today. The ones who are unmarried may give you looks like why are kids born and why do they cry and shout so much. Don’t let these feeling add to you feeling of ineptitude. Handling a toddler with a tantrum is as it is exhausting and it like your walking on the ground full of eggshells, any wrong step can lead to next outbursts of your child. When your child is in the middle of a tantrum, it can be really tough to keep yourself from having your own meltdown, too. Stay composed is the 1st rule of managing your child.
These tantrum as per the reports floating around the web are a major part of the kids aged 18 months to 4 years. So if your child is nearing 4th year you may relax (My daughter is 3.6 yrs, 6 more months of tantrum left for me). With my experience, I would say such behaviour is prevalent in the 3rd year of a child’s life.Their new found freedom to explore and new words being added to their vocabulary leads to them being demanding and edgy. So we need to watch out more on the pre-schoolers.Sharing with you ways to handle your toddler’s tantrum.
Find ways to stay calm yourself: Behave the way you want your kids to behave. Model desirable ways to handle frustration and anger. Do you slam doors, stomp your feet, scream, or hit things when you are angry? Don’t be surprised if your children follow suit. They are watching and learning from you all of the time. Question yourself, is my child hungry? Is my child sleepy? Think about what is required by your child. While your kid is losing control you need to show that you are in total control (Don’t freak out) Half the battle is won if you are calm.
Monitor your children’s feelings: Kids to have feelings like we adults.We need to monitor the feelings of your child closely. The moment you feel there is a frustration building in your child due to inability to do something, gently step in and ask if you can help. Once you get them past the hurdle, let them independently manage the rest of the task.
Stop and listen to them the first time: Who does not need time and attention. Even kids do. Listen to them the first time they say something. Don’t avoid or neglect. Don’t let them throw a fit to get your attention. You got to know what is frustrating your child. When we parents don’t get the message right from our child they freak out and release their frustration is a particular way. Parenting is all abut experimenting and finding the best way to raise your kids. I do the same with my toddler girl. She has taught me that if I listen to her the first time, be it at home or marketplace. She appreciates my attention. If I continue to ignore her and do my chores, she gets irritated and behaves in a way which is not called for.
Giving space:- When at home you can let your child have some space. Let him vent out his anger. No point getting into a yelling battle with your toddler. They will pull themselves together and will regain self-control. I believe ignoring your child along with giving the needed space works wonders. Temper tantrum can be real bad and when your child is out of his mind, reasoning with him won’t work. So best is to avoid and let the child come to you. Do this tactfully. Don’t let the child feel emotionally bad that no one is bothered.
Give incentive: Toddlers have energy fizzing out of them.Perhaps they find certain situation very tiring for them to sit still and behave in a particular way. Try giving him an incentive. Smaller kids feel elated with the idea of getting a star made by a pen in hand or getting a good remark in the diary or getting an ice cream made on hands. It works wonders with my daughter. Last resort could be chocolate used as an incentive but, only after your child have behaved the way you wanted. Don’t make it a habit, however.
Find a diversion: Get your child to engage in something else. This will help you child forget about the meltdown and will be able to focus on something else. If you are attentive you can catch the meltdown before it happens by offering a diversion of another sort which will engage your child. Look out for those signs which I am sure by now you have mastered while raising your little munchkin.
The power of whisper: When you see that the situation is going out of your hands and the volume of your toddler is rising up. Instead of raising your voice to make your kids hear you, try whispering in the ear and get the attention of your toddler. Kids have a tendency to pay attention to whisper over loud voice.
Ignore certain situations: Going for a monthly grocery shopping to a mall? Dreading your kid being too demanding and wanting to buy something for himself? At times it’s better to ignore certain situations from arising. If you are planning on a shopping at the mall and you are expecting your child will behave in a certain way around things which catch his attention. Better go without your kid in tow. In case you do have to take your child, try to make your trip quick and avoid sections which are going to cause a concern later.
Keep your children safe: In a fit of anger, kids tend to harm themselves. Try to hold them. If they do not want to be held at the moment, try to calm them by your gentle touch from a distance. When you feel your toddler is calming down, they may welcome a hug from you.
Develop your own language of communication: Most of the frustration which kids have is because they are not able to communicate what they want and hence they freak out. We need to understand their needs. Build your own language of communication with your child. Due to the lack of vocabulary, they don’t know how to ask for something. Be patient. Ask them politely what they want, ask them to point out what they want.
Change of venue: Getting kids away from the scene of the tantrum can snap them out of it. When in public this helps big time. When you sense the meltdown coming, better would be to move out of the venue and let the child calm down.Changing the venue really can change the behaviour.
The power of hug : Last but not least, it’s the most powerful weapon. This may sound like the last thing that you want to do with you child when he/she is freaking out and wailing, but it really can help him/her settle down. You need to give a tight firm hug. A hug of assurance and not a cuddly one. Hugs make kids feel secure and let them know that you care about them, even if you don’t agree with their behaviour. We all need a vent out from time to time and we do that often in front of our loved ones. Kids work in same fashion and they just need a safe place to get their emotions out.
Most important thing that I have learnt over a period of time, which I think most of the parents reading this would agree. Don’t give in. Let the child learn that your yes is a yes and your no is a no. If we cave in once, we are sending a wrong message that the child can manipulate us with temper tantrums and have his or her way. If ever you are tempted to give in to the demand of your toddler, wait for a minute, talk to your toddler about her/his reaction and how else he/she could have asked for a particular thing. Once your kiddo realises that you would have agreed to a certain demand if it was made in a way, then he/she will learn to behave and ask for things in an acceptable manner. Then you can give what your child is demanding for. This way he/she will realise that they have got what they wanted because you tried to make sense with them and didn’t just cave in.
Celebrate each day with you child and acknowledge that they are trying so hard to grow up. They genuinely want to do more and can’t because they can’t communicate all that they want well. We parents, need to keep patience and help them through this hard and difficult path, and with your support and understanding, they will learn, mature, and develop better ways to manage their emotions, tolerate frustration, be more receptive and manage themselves better.