Every parent has been there. You’re in the middle of a grocery store and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, your toddler starts to have a meltdown. The causes of a toddler’s emotions going from zero to one-hundred can depend on your individual child and the circumstances, but know that it is all part of their social-emotional growth. There are however, some tried and true strategies you can always use to help diffuse the situation. Here are our top 8 expert-backed strategies to taming tantrums:
One of the best ways to turn a toddler’s frown upside down is to distract her from her angry mood with a silly game. Sing some silly songs or make a funny face. Defuse a tense moment by injecting play into the mix.
During a tantrum, your child’s emotions take over and the reasoning part of their brain isn’t working. In that moment, there is nothing you can do to make things better. Wait until they calm down and then talk with them.
Give Them Space
Sometimes kids just need to express their anger. There is nothing wrong with letting them do this. Allow them to vent their frustrations in a nondestructive way until they can regain self-control. Battling with them will often just make it worse.
Create a Diversion
Take their mind off of the meltdown and engage in something interesting. A distraction could be a toy, book, snack or anything that will grab their attention. This strategy can also be used when catching meltdowns before they become full blown. Children’s short attention spans make it easier for you to divert them.
Get to the Bottom of It
Especially for children under three, their limited communication can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. Teaching your child how to sign a few key words (like hungry, tired, milk, etc.) or having them point out specific wants can help them express their feelings before they go overboard.
Two Words: Food and Sleep
The two biggest tantrum triggers for any kid are being tired and being hungry. Their physical state in those conditions already put them on an emotional brink. Daily breakdowns that occur at the same time of day (like before lunch) might be an indicator that they need a snack or some rest and relaxation.
Hug it Out
Hugs make kids feel secure and let them know you care about them even if you don’t agree with their current behavior. A big firm (think bear) hug should do the trick, no talking needed.
This is probably the most important strategy, although it is not always the easiest. Experts insist that keeping your cool during a tantrum will prevent power struggles and escalation. Kids want attention, good or bad and keeping a calm voice shows your child that you are not going to let their behavior get to you.
When your kid’s in the middle of a tantrum, it can be tough to keep yourself from having your own meltdown, too. But, understand that during a tantrum your child is no longer in control. So, take a deep breath and implement one of these strategies.
At Tender Years, the process of interaction, well-defined boundaries, and routines help ensure that your child is able to make structured and developmentally appropriate choices. We pride ourselves on creating an environment that addresses the social and emotional growth in every child.