You're in the middle of the grocery store and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, your toddler starts to have a meltdown. What do you do?
Previously, I shared reasons why your toddler may be having a meltdown, and also some tips for preventing tantrums from happening. Today, I'd like to share some tips for taming toddler tantrums when they do happen.
First: with toddlers, it is important to not abandon them when punishing them. So, even though you use time-out as a technique, have a short duration for time-out and don't isolate your toddler from your sight or send him to his room. Understand that during a tantrum, your child is no longer in control. So whenever possible, make eye contact, even if it means getting down physically to his eye level. This will help shift the excitability and energy of the situation, and begin to calm things down.
Tips for Taming Toddler Tantrums: Age Two
If a two-year-old eventually gets his way, he'll most likely stop his temper tantrum. Don't give in or you will have reinforced negative behavior. Yet, like anything emotional, when feelings continue to escalate, it is harder to diffuse. The best course of action is to change your two-year-old's environment, pick him up, and take him somewhere else. It breaks the cycle, relieves the tension, and distracts him from the object of his attention.
Tips for Taming Toddler Tantrums: Age Three
At age three, if you take control and do not reward negative behavior, temper tantrums will occur less often and with less conflict. Furthermore, if you give small amounts of control to your toddler -- for example, allowing him to select clothing or food from options you have pre-approved, your three-year-old will feel a sense of independence that will satisfy his developmental stage and his need to push out in a way that fosters a secure sense of himself. Like at age two, distraction still goes a long way in stopping your three-year-old's temper tantrum while you're in the middle of it. Change the environment and change the subject.
Tips for Taming Toddler Tantrums: Age Four
Because your four-year-old has better motor and physical skills, he may attempt to strike out during tantrums. It is very important to never allow your four-year-old to hit or punch YOU! It is never too soon to teach respect and this lesson is the first time that your child will comprehend a true boundary, one of the most important lessons of his life. Furthermore, your four-year-old has better motor skills and can either run away from you or hide; so remember to stay calm, stay cool, and stay in control.
At the end of the day, nothing serves a challenging situation such as dealing with toddler tantrums as well as a good sense of humor and parenting perspective. Don't take these tantrums too seriously, and certainly do not take toddler tantrums too personally. They're all part of growing up, and while your toddler learns to handle his new emotions and newfound independence. In the middle of it all, it's important to remember: this too, shall pass.