There is nothing more embarrassing than having your toddler throw a tantrum in the middle of a crowd. You feel like everyone is judging you while you scramble to try and diffuse it. I have five children so I have faced my fair share of tantrums. These are my top ways to tame the terrible tantrums.
AVOID OVERTIREDNESS It’s next to impossible to reason with a child when they are overtired. Heck – it’s hard to reason with an adult when they’re short on sleep, too. When my toddler is overtired she turns into a little monster. She wants nothing to do with anyone and I swear everyone within a five mile radius can hear her screeching. Before bringing your child shopping, or even to an event, make sure they are well rested. Try to stick to their daily routine, including naps, as much as possible. It’s much easier to plan your day around their nap schedule than it is to try and comfort a screaming, cranky, tired child in a public place.
GIVE CHOICES Toddlers want to be independent. They want to do everything for themselves and be like the big kids. We want them to learn independence, but it’s not always easy when what they want isn’t safe for them yet. The most successful way I’ve dealt with this is to offer choices. If my oldest is writing with a pen and my toddler wants a pen too, I offer a red or blue crayon instead. She doesn’t get the sharp pen, and she feels like she has some control by choosing what I offer. This almost always causes the tantrums to dissolve on the spot.
AVOID THE SITUATION Try and avoid situations that are going to trigger a tantrum, or prepare in advance to deal with them. If you know you are going on an outing that will require your toddler to sit quietly, think about getting a sitter. If that’s not possible, bring along some books or toys she hasn’t played with for a while. I keep a secret stash of small toys and books that I rotate for church. It’s extremely hard for my toddler to sit for a 45 minute church service, so I plan in advance for ideas to keep her occupied.
OFFER SUGGESTIONS If your child keeps pulling on the dogs tail, offer suggestions on how to behave, such as “Let’s pet the puppy nice like this.” If they keep playing with your tablet, put it up and offer a different toy instead. If you get them interested in something else, they will forget what they originally wanted, and you will avoid the big meltdown. Keep explaining the rules, and they will learn what acceptable behavior is, and what is not.
IGNORE IT If you child is pitching a fit, and isn’t harming himself, try to just ignore it. If there is no audience to watch, he may stop acting out. Once he is calm, take a few minutes to talk to him about his actions.
PICK YOUR BATTLES Decide if the argument is really worth it. If your daughter wants to wear her rain boots on a beautiful summer day, is it really worth the fight to make her change into the sandals you want her to wear? It’s important to let your toddler make some decisions on her own. She wants to feel like what she decides is important and correct, too. Don’t say no to everything, and she is more likely listen to you when you do need to say no.
REINFORCE GOOD BEHAVIOUR Kids want to please. They want us to be proud of them and love them no matter what they do. Make sure you take the time every day to praise your child. Tell them how proud of them you are for picking up their toys. Tell him what a good boy he was for sitting quietly while you talked to the clerk. Give her a kiss and say great job for sharing your toy with the little girl. The more you praise them, the more good behavior you will see.
Whatever route you choose to stop the tantrums, remember to set a good example. Our kids mimic us, so if we are upset over something, our children will most likely act out in the same manner. Remembering that there are little eyes on you all the time will help you to remain calm.