Most mums are familiar with the terrible two’s and many of us know how it feels when they extend into the troublesome three’s or fearsome four’s. Handling your toddler’s tantrums early on will help you feel like a super mum so we’ve found 4 ways you can do just that.
1. It’s not evil to ignore their behaviour
Believe it or not ignoring your child’s tantrums can be a good strategy. While in the midst of their rage toddlers are unable to use the parts of their brain that allow proper reasoning; which means talking it out with them won’t work. Place some sturdy kids furniture in one corner of the room that can serve as a timeout zone, but also somewhere in your view so they don’t hurt themselves. No matter how much they scream or hit or wiggle ask them to stay there until they have calmed down. Only once they are calm are you able to discuss openly what has made them upset and teach them there are other ways to handle these frustrations.
2. Recognise the different types of tantrums
Most toddler tantrums fall under 3 categories: frustration, exhaustion and temper tantrums. Talking it out when they are having a frustrated tantrum usually helps minimise the anger. Temper tantrums on the other hand won’t be stopped no matter what you try; so just be calm and patient until it ends. Exhaustion tantrums are the easiest by far because you already know the cause. It may not be simple to get them to have a nap and fix the issue but we promise providing them with an inviting toddler bed will be half the battle won.
3. How to reduce the severity
Dominique Groenveld, from Oh Beehave, has a background in psychology and teaching and uses this knowledge to help parents combat common behavioural issues. Here she share’s 3 strategies that should reduce the severity of a crazy tantrum:
“1. Identify the Trigger
This strategy is about identifying whether there is something in particular that triggers your child to have a tantrum. For example, is there a particular time, day, place, TV show, toy etc that triggers a tantrums for your child?
2. Remove the Reinforcers
“Reinforcers” are anything that can be interpreted by your child as confirming that they need to have a tantrum to get what they want. A reinforcer can be something they gain, or something they “get out of”.
Imagine for example, every time you ask your child to unpack their school bag, they have a tantrum. You send them to timeout, during which you unpack their school bag. This scenario teaches a child that they need to have a tantrum to get out of doing something they don’t want to do.
3. Communicate Expectations
Imagine you have identified that every time your child goes to the shops, they are going to ask you for a treat (and you know they are going to have a tantrum when you say no). Before you go to the shops, communicate your expectations to your child, for example “After lunch we are going to the shops. If you ask me for a treat, I will say No. You might feel upset or angry. Even if you get upset, my answer will still be No”.
If a tantrum does occur, communicate with your child about their emotions. For example “You’re upset because I said you can’t have a treat today. Treats are for special occasions.”
4. If all else fails simply ride it out
Jessica Cleary is the principal psychologist for Hopscotch and Harmony and she offered this advice:
“Try as you might, once the toddler tantrum is in full swing, your attempts to stop it are futile. This is where many of us go wrong as we try to distract, plead, use logic or have our own adult-tantrum to try to control the situation. Most of the time these attempts make things worse as our toddlers get even more frustrated and angry with us.
Instead what you can do is ensure no one is getting hurt and no objects are getting damaged. Say "I won't let you hit" as you gently stop them from hurting others. Move them away before they have the opportunity to clear the decks by swiping whatever they can off the supermarket shelves.
Tantrums are developmentally appropriate for a two-year-old. Punishing them or getting angry about them is just like getting angry at a 12 month old who is falling over as they learn to walk. Our job as a parent is to guide, encourage and support our children.”
Tantrums will happen time and time again so don’t despair if those terrible two’s seem to never end. Just take a breath and try one of these techniques instead.