Hey there moms, dads, first timers and seasoned veteran parents guess what? My little one turned two about three weeks ago. Yup! The terrible twos are here. The year the temper tantrums and meltdowns begin.
I braced myself for it back when he was 18 months old as I was told it could start as early as 18 months and last until he was 4 years old!
Hoping that this will not be the case.
If you are a mom or dad and have a toddler, you know a thing or two about tantrums. If not, get ready to learn all about tantrum drama. If you don’t have any kids yet, don’t let this post put you off. Kids are the greatest blessing in the world. Really! Trust me!
My little one inspired me to write this post after going through a week of daily tantrums. Yesterday was the most intense, and I begged the heavens to give me the patience of Mother Theresa.
The thing with temper tantrums and meltdowns is they always seem to happen in the worst of places at the worst of times.
We have been lucky so far (*knock on wood*) and his tantrums have been at home. I have seen lots of parents at the grocery store, who have not been spared of public tantrums. Sigh.
Lying at their feet is their toddler who is just not having it. Screams of “no,no,no” with fists pounding the floor in fury. Yikes, you could hear the noise all the way from Mars. Crying, hitting, pinching, kicking, stomping, throwing things, and screaming are all popular tantrum techniques – or tactics.
LOL. Before I had oh darling little one, I judged other moms a lot. Yes. I admit it.
I would often think to myself “can’t she control her kids?”, “why is she allowing her child to roll around on the floor? I’d never do that”.
Now I keep my mouth shut and give the mom a knowing smile when she has a look on her face wishing for the floor to open and swallow her up.
I can show empathy because I get it.
I don’t like giving my little one cookies and sweets to get him to do what I want but if it will prevent a tantrum while out grocery shopping, then a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do.
It is what it is. Don’t judge.
Good News – You Can See The Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns Coming
You will learn to recognize the signs and prevent the temper tantrums and meltdowns from even taking place. It may not be possible every single time, but you can try.It will be easier when you’ve learned how to avoid, handle and cope.
Why Do Toddlers Scream And Throw Tantrums?
Attention. Toddlers scream whenever they want a parent’s attention. It is their way of saying, “Hey, over here, look at me, look at me now! I need to tell you something.” At times, screaming mean something else.
Like “stop talking because I want to talk” or “I want to have my way.”
They get frustrated when you don’t respond to what they’re ‘saying’ and throw a fit.
Their communication is limited, yet they have so much to say. Toddlers do not know how to get all their thoughts, wishes and needs met.
My little one can be the most patient toddler on planet Earth.
On the other side, when he is trying to tell his Dad or myself something and we don’t immediately get the message or misunderstand – he freaks out.
This is how toddlers release their frustration.
As you get used to the screaming, screeching, shrieking and tantrum throwing, you will soon figure out what each of the “sounds” (and their levels) mean.
Toddlers love to explore the power of their voice and experiment how to use it.How to use it to get want they want. Toddlers love trial and error.
They are able to go through this process quickly to figure out what they can get away with and with whom.
They will practice at home, in daycare, grandma’s house, with the nanny, everyone. Whoever chooses not to comply? Tantrum city.
The trick is knowing how to cope.
The moment they realize they can get what they want whenever they throw tantrums because you give in? You are done for.
Don’t ever let these 3 foot nothings see you sweat.
What Can You Do About It? Learn the do’s and don’t of temper tantrums and meltdowns. Recognize the triggers.
You will know when Its. About. To. Go. Down.
When your child is throwing a tantrum, it can be tough to keep yourself from having your own meltdown, too. Stay calm, consistent and don’t give in.It is easier said than done, but stick to your guns.
Never underestimate the power these little ones have.
Once your child realizes the temper tantrum isn’t getting him/her anywhere, they’ll stop screaming. Like magic.
There are many different tips, tricks and strategies to turn your child’s attention elsewhere or to get them to calm down. There are also a lot of no-no’s.
Let’s start with those first.
5 Things You Shouldn’t Do During A Temper Tantrum
1. Don’t Scream At Your Toddler
Screaming at your child when they are screaming only sends the message that whoever is loudest prevails. It is so hard but it is of utmost import to never lose your cool.
Be the calm in their emotional storm. Think about it this way, have you ever been upset, angry and frustrated? Screamed and cried?
Well how would you like it if someone bigger came up to you and screamed even louder at you? Would that make you feel better or worse?
When we fly off the handle, it makes our babies more upset.
Often times, it creates fear, shame, and feeling bad about themselves.
If someone yells at me, all it does is silences the point they are trying to make. In one ear, out the other.
Raising your voice is necessary at times but screaming like a raging lunatic at your toddler is ridiculous.
It really irks me when I hear a parent say “the baby is shouting so I have to shout too.” or those who shout in an effort to “instill fear”.
How cowardly. Do you want your child to hear your words or your voice?
2. Don’t Try To Reason With A Screaming Toddler
It is so pointless as they are incapable of hearing or being rational in the very moment. Trying to get them to stop, or to be quiet is not going to work.
Wait for your child to slowly start calming down, then try again.
If the screams get louder again, back off and wait.
3. Don’t Walk Away
Step away but do not walk away from your child when they are having temper tantrums and meltdowns. This can breed abandonment issues.
The message being sent by doing so is that they are unloved when they are feeling bad, sad or frustrated. Just when your child needs you the most, don’t walk away.
I try to stay close by even when he wants me to get away in his moment of anger. When he is over it, I always give his hugs and kisses and then talk.
4. Don’t Bribe Your Child ( unless it is necessary)
Isn’t ikt always necessary? LOL.
Guilty as charged. I have bribed my little one many times. Cookies, chocolate, iPhone.
He loves looking at pictures and videos on the iPhone and I have used it to allow him to get his way and stop crying.
However, yesterday, I refused to give in. He was shocked!
I say bribe if absolutely necessary but do not make it a norm. It is never good to reward bad behaviour.
5. Don’t Take It personally
Just don’t. It’s not about you.
MOM TIP: Remember being bored, tired and hungry are the three biggest tantrum triggers. Unless your child is extremely spoiled. Does your child get cranky around the same time every day? What could be the trigger? Is there need for an afternoon nap? Food or water? Or does your child need to get out of the house and get some fresh air?
My little one LOVES going on evening walks with his Dad. That’s their thing. They walk or take his tricycle and are out and about for an hour.
Mom gets to relax for an hour and all is well in the world.
5 Things You Should Do To Avoid Temper Tantrums And Meltdowns
1. Give Choices
I cannot emphasize enough how choices can work wonders with toddlers.
In our house, and maybe in yours too, tantrums happen because our toddler feels he has no control over the situation. My God the injustice of it all!
I give choices that allows him to feel in control.
Take this scenario. You are trying to get out of the house in the next 3 minutes and your little one is not really feeling like putting his shoes on.
Instead of “ Are you going to put your shoes on?”
Try “do you want to wear the black shoes or the red ones?”
“RED!” he screams, and on his feet they go.
Choices, choices. This way I can guarantee that I won’t get no as an answer, he feels in control, and he is doing what I need him to do so we can get going. WIN! WIN! WIN!
I do the same with clothes, food, jacket, snacks, fruit, toys……works like magic.
2. Acknowledge Feelings
Never discount your toddler’s feelings. Are you in a loud store, restaurant or environment. It might be too much for your toddler.
Always reinforce by speaking positive affirmations and letting your little one know what you are doing and why.
Finish explaining by stating you will be done soon and something more fun is going to take place next.
3. Challenge Your Toddler
You know what a great trick is? When you feel a meltdown coming on? Whisper? What? Yup, that’s what I said whisper. Toddlers love challenges.
Whispering will catch their attention and make them curious to try to hear what you are saying.
Sometimes, I snap my fingers and say “try to snap your fingers if you can hear me.” It’s funny because they can’t snap their fingers, but as I said, they love challenges and will try to do it anyway.
Redirecting attention will save your sanity when your child goes through this phase of temper tantrums and meltdowns.
4. My Great Little Helper
My little one knows I am a busy bee and that I love organization and projects. He loves being my great little helper.
At first, I used to think it would be better for him to sit and watch me put away the laundry or vacuum or clean up the kitchen.
Then I realized he loves to help and doesn’t like it when he feels like he is not included. So I changed my game and strategy. I’ve learned that he’s calmer when he’s busy.
We make up songs and stories as we are working and it turns into a little game.
The best part? Telling him what a great job he has done and watching his smile on his face as he claps his hands knowing mama is proud of him.
5. Stretching Patience
Sometimes you just need to teach your toddler to wait. Don’t jump at their every request.
Gently say “yes you can have a toy, but just give me a minute to finish this”.
Part of having temper tantrums and meltdowns is an unwillingness to wait for things. Learning to wait will teach your toddler patience and meltdowns are less likely to happen when they know they will get what they want, even though they might have to wait for SIXTY SECONDS.
As the saying goes, pick your battles.
Children need problem-solving tools and a healthy and happy environment to grow up.
They should not be hearing “hey, no, stop, enough” all the time.
Of course, those are words you might need during the day to prevent them from being hurt or doing the wrong thing. There are many ways to do that without having to say NO to everything. I will save those tips for another post.
Give in a little, not all lessons require a consequence.
Use challenges as an opportunity to talk and help your child and yourself to come up with better ways to handle “tough” situations.
The Light The End Of The Tantrum Tunnel
Toddlers will grow out of this phase. It will not last forever.
Encourage quiet in certain environments, but remember kids are kids and are learning to use their vocal chords.
Control the general volume in your house. If your TV, radio, and computer are always blaring, then don’t be surprised as to why you have a little screaming toddler at home. No screaming at your toddler or other family members.
Children imitate their parents. The good, the bad and the funny.
Aside from the temper tantrums and meltdowns of the terrible twos, toddlers are giggly, silly, and fun.
My toddler is awesome because he can feed himself, play by himself, be left alone in a room for a few minutes, only poops once or twice a day, doesn’t cry much and when he does I generally know why.
He can follow simple instructions, tell me what he wants or needs, and sleeps through the night.
Plus he knows how to do a funny dance we call the ‘afro-austrian-croatian creep walk.’
He is curious, engaged, and so excited about learning about the world.
Everyday’s an adventure for us and I absolutely love it. And him.
Are you a first-time mom, seasoned veteran, or planning to have kids soon?
Let me know your thoughts on this post and how you deal with temper tantrums and meltdowns.
I am learning by doing, so tips, strategies and advice are welcome.
You can download the 5 Things You Should Do To Avoid Temper Tantrums And Meltdowns and 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do During A Temper Tantrum from my free resource library now.
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