Ah, the toddler tantrum. If you’ve witnessed one, particularly if you’re the parent of the toddler that threw the tantrum, you know how it goes. Sometimes there’s a warning sign. Sometimes there’s not. Typically the word, “Nooooo!” is yelled out in a very hand-to-head stage drama sort of way. Crying and screaming follow. There’s always some sort of physical action, of course. Many times they throw themselves on the floor, which can really suck, because that can cause an actual injury, thus even further irritating the tantrum taking place. During a recent tantrum of my daughter, Romy’s, who’s not quite 2 1/2 years old, I decided to take a few pictures. Yes, pictures. The lighting outside was beautiful, and she looked adorable in her tutu and rubber boots. I mean, if she’s gonna have a meltdown, best to do it in good lighting and good clothes, right? Anyway, in this moment, I realized that I was calm enough to take pictures and then hug her tight. That’s a massive improvement from how I handled these situations with my son, who’s now 5. I was more uptight about parenting overall back then. And as the story goes, I’ve gotten better over time. So, here are 6 things I try to do when my little gal starts to freak out.
1. Stay calm.
Yeah, easier said than done. I know. But over time, you’ll get better at this. Sure, I still have times where I lose it, but they happen much less these days.
2. Speak softly.
It seems that the first thing we want to do when a meltdown starts is yell, “What’s wrong now?!” or “HUSH!” But I’ve learned that when my volume raises, the kid’s does, too.
A review is a good way to communicate with a young child. It might sound something like, “Did it make you sad when I took that screwdriver out of your hand?” (ha) You’re confirming and acknowledging the issue, which is a relief to them considering their communication skills aren’t stellar just yet.
Yes, I said it. Give them an explanation. I’ve found that telling my kids why is one of the best ways to resolve conflict. And it doesn’t have to be too deep or complicated. Sometimes my explanation is simply, “You’re in trouble for screaming at me because that’s not nice, and I’m trying to teach you how to be a nice person.” The old saying ‘because I said so’ is funny to joke about, but mostly not actually effective.
5. Give love.
A hug and a kiss go a loooong way during or after a tantrum. Every once in a while, I get rejected. But most of the time its welcome and needed…by both of us.
6. Move on.
Once you feel that things have settled and improved, move forward. If you want to revisit the issue at the end of the day as a this-is-what-we-did-today discussion sort of thing, that’s cool. But overall, I’ve found that dwelling on the tantrum doesn’t help them feel better and just stresses me out further.
Technically, there’s not a number 7, but if there was, Have a glass of wine would be a good one. 🙂