What would you do in the event of a tantrum? Many parents, including myself, experience these outbursts and don’t know what to do.
It’s understandable when we haven’t been through it before. In this blog, I am going to share 10 tips on how to handle your toddler’s tantrums. I hope that my advice will help you get through those difficult moments with less stress!
Stay Calm and Avoid Yelling.
Everyone knows that yelling and getting mad is not a good idea. It doesn’t help the situation and makes you look like an out-of-control parent.
When your toddler starts to throw a tantrum, do your best to stay calm. If things get too loud, try putting them in another room (or walk outside) until they calm down enough for you to reason with them.
I know that it’s easier said than done, but stay calm because this will clearly communicate to your child that you are in charge. And believe it or not, your child will eventually calm down when he/she sees that you are not reacting emotionally to the tantrum.
Distract your Child.
This is a good way to get your child’s attention off of the tantrum and onto something else without rewarding bad behavior. When your child starts to throw a fit, try to distract him/her with music or an activity. You can also try taking them on a walk or somewhere else that will grab their attention. If you can get them to stop crying and focus on something else, then the tantrum will eventually end.
Make sure the distraction is something your child will enjoy and is appropriate for their age. Don’t try to give them too much information at once or they may become overwhelmed. If your child is throwing a tantrum because he/she is bored or doesn’t know what to do, then try to distract him/her with something new. This could be music, sounds, or an activity.
Sometimes all it takes is a little change of scenery to stop the tantrum. So, try to think of something that will catch your child’s attention and distract him/her from the fit.
Give your Child a Warning.
This is a very good tactic to reduce tantrums because it teaches children how to behave appropriately. Give your child a warning before taking something away that your child likes, such as a toy or snack.
Here’s an example: “Jane, if you don’t eat the rest of your food, then you won’t be able to have ice cream later.” You can even follow up with an explanation for why he/she cannot have the treat right now. In this way, your child will learn what behaviors are acceptable and which ones aren’t.
In addition, using warnings will teach kids cause and effect because they will understand what actions lead up to certain consequences. And this knowledge may help them avoid tantrums in the future!
Instead of giving a verbal warning, you can use a distraction as a final chance for your child to behave appropriately before you take away the object of his/her tantrum. For example: “Michael, stop throwing toys, or I will have to take them away.” This way, he/she has been warned lightly, and hopefully, he/she will cooperate with you without having to go through with the removal of the toy.
Give Choices When Asking Your Child to Do Something.
When your child throws a fit, try to avoid asking them, “Would you like to…” because it will probably just turn into another tantrum. Instead, ask your child which choice they would rather do.
It can be difficult for young children to make decisions, so this tactic may take some practice before it works. But if you give your child enough time to think through the choices, then he/she should be able to make a decision without having a tantrum. And also, if the choice is not clear cut (for instance, between peanut butter and jelly), you could leave both options on the table but put out one plate with each item in it, or simply pick up one of them at random after saying something like “Let’s see, would you like the blue one or the red one?”
This will give your child some control over the situation and, hopefully, will stop the tantrum from happening.
Use Positive Reinforcement for Good Behavior.
Using positive reinforcement is a great way to encourage good behavior in your child. When your child behaves appropriately, make sure to praise him/her for it! This will help them learn that good behavior is rewarded.
You can also give your child a sticker chart or special privilege as a reward for good behavior. This will show your child that behaving well gets them something they want and will encourage them to continue doing so.
When your child does something right, take the time to tell them exactly what you expect from them when they are behaving appropriately.
For example, “Michael, thank you for putting all of your toys back on the shelf. That was good behavior, and I’m proud of you.” Your words will serve as a simple reminder to your child about how he/she should act when they are not throwing a tantrum. And soon enough, they will start repeating this positive behavior without even thinking about it!
Teach Your Children How to Express Themselves.
If your child is younger, then you can teach him/her how to express emotions in a healthy way. For example, teach them what it means to use words instead of actions when they are mad or upset.
For example: if your child starts throwing toys on the floor when he’s mad, make it a point to calmly say, “I understand you’re angry, but we don’t throw things because that hurts people.” Then show him an appropriate way of venting his frustration, such as through drawing. This will allow children to learn healthier ways of expressing themselves other than through tantrums!
In addition, this will help prevent future tantrums from occurring by letting them know that their feelings and thoughts are valid and deserve acknowledgment.
Use Humor when Dealing with Tantrums.
Here are some examples of how you can use humor to diffuse a tantrum:
- If your child is throwing a fit because they want to leave the store, you can say with humor: “You can’t go yet because I haven’t danced like a monkey three times yet.”
- Another example would be if your child starts having a tantrum because they don’t want to eat their dinner, you can say, “Oh really? I thought you were a hungry hippo?”
Using humor can help turn a bad situation into something more lighthearted and enjoyable for both you and your child. It also makes it easier for children to loosen up so they can actually see what’s going on rather than being too focused on their anger or frustration.
Avoid Power Struggles or Punishments.
It’s important to avoid any type of power struggle with your child during a tantrum because it will only make things worse. For example, if you try to force them to stop crying by picking them up or yelling at them, then this will only aggravate the situation.
Punishments are also not recommended during a tantrum because they usually involve doing something that the child doesn’t want to do (e.g., going to timeout or being sent to bed without dinner). This will just lead to more defiance and an even bigger meltdown!
Give them a Hug and Tell them You Love them.
When your child has calmed down enough to hear you, then give them a hug and tell them that you love them. This will let them know that despite the tantrum, things are okay between you two.
You can also explain why they were upset in the first place if they don’t already understand what happened. For example: “I know that it’s frustrating when Mommy says no, but we have to go in the car now.” Be sure to listen patiently while they talk, so he/she knows you care about what he/she is saying.
Basically, this point is all about showing your child that although what happened was upsetting for both of you, it doesn’t change how much you love each other!
Ignore the Tantrum.
As a last resort, you can calmly ignore the tantrum until it ends on its own. This will show your child that you’re not going to give in to their demands, and they will eventually get tired and stop.
This may be a difficult one to do, but it can be very effective, depending on the child. Ignore the tantrum, and do not give your child any attention whatsoever. This means no eye contact, no talking, and no touching. The idea is to completely ignore the behavior until it stops.
Tantrums tend to be shorter if they are ignored or delayed. Parents often think that acting quickly will ‘encourage’ their child to stop doing what they’re doing… but it usually does the opposite and prolongs the tantrum (and makes it worse). One thing I used to do was go into the and wait till my daughter stopped.
It’s important to note that this approach should only be used as a last resort because your child may get upset and cry even more if you don’t give him/her any attention. But, if other methods haven’t worked, then this may be worth a try.
Hopefully, by following these tips, you will be able to deal effectively with your child’s temper tantrums! Remember that every child is different, so what works for one might not work for another.
Be patient and keep trying until you find something that works for both of you. And most importantly, don’t forget to hug and tell your child how much you love them no matter what!
Thank you for reading!
Brenda Tillman is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, a dedicated mom blogger, and a life enthusiast. She also has completed courses on Parenting Skills, Learning, and Education. She is married and is the proud mother of a boy and two girls. She loves being with her family and pets. She has been blogging for over five years now and enjoys sharing her thoughts on parenting, relationships, health & fitness as well as other topics that come up in life.