You walk into a store, everything seems to be going normally. Then your toddler spots a toy or candy. They ask nicely if they can have it, but for some reason, it's a no from you. Tears well up in their eyes, their face starts to turn into red, tomatoes they open their mouths and outcomes the screams and cries of defiance. You panic not knowing what to do as more people begin to stare at you, maybe even verbally judge you, all you can do is either leave or quickly check out.
Sound familiar? If you have a toddler, or younger child you know what it's like to deal with tantrums. Sometimes they fade quickly, but most of the time they escalate. I have put together 6 tips on how to deal with tantrums, with some of my own experiences.
3 Things NOT to do
1. Don't Give In
This may seem like an easy option, especially when it seems like everyone is staring at you in the store. If you're not in public, maybe you have a headache already or don't feel like dealing at the moment. This option can seem super tempting. I'd be lying if I haven't given in to this option before.
However, this shows your child that if they act out when they want something, then you are likely to give them what they want. It is a great way for them to begin manipulating you. You want to make sure that you stay the parent and the person in charge of the situation.
2. Don't Ignore Or Punish
Studies have shown that this method just doesn't work, and can have negative effects later in life. Put yourself in your child's shoes for a moment. You are overwhelmed by something, but you don't know how to express it. You try to ask for help but your parents don't understand
you and brush you off.
Now you're misunderstood and overwhelmed, so you try to get their attention again, but they tell you they are busy doing something. Not knowing what to do, or how to express yourself you just break down and cry in frustration. Instead of your parents asking you what's wrong and trying to comfort you, they lash out and punish you for not knowing how to express yourself. Maybe they just keep ignoring you like they don't care at all.
Can you see how this is in no way helpful and can make matters worse? You can really damage a child emotionally this way, and give them a reason not to trust you or come to you when they need help.
3. Don't Reason
The reason for this is the same as not giving in. When you give into a child when they are having a tantrum over something, you let them know that they can manipulate you. You step down as the parent and are letting the child take control of the situation. This can cause future tantrums, and as an adult, they will think they can get whatever they want if they throw a fit. Stand firm, let them know you are the parent.
3 Things you NEED to do
1. Comfort Them
Your child is just that, a child. They are learning how to deal with their emotions, and what they mean. You need to give them grace when they are feeling overwhelmed. In my daughter's case, she goes non-verbal when she is upset. She can't handle her emotions and doesn't know how to express to me what's wrong.
I have found that the best thing to do is to just hold her. Let her know that I am here for her when she is struggling and that she can always find comfort in her mother's arms. Use these moments to build trust with your child, and they will know that they can come to you with anything.
2. Listen To Them
If you were going through a tough time and needed to talk to someone, who would you turn to? What if they just ignored you, and acted as though they didn't care? Your child is trying to come to you. They are trusting you to know what to do when they don't. Sometimes the best thing we can do is listen.
After my daughter has been held for a bit, she calms down enough to have a conversation. So I ask her to tell me what is wrong. She is only three years old and is still learning how to say certain things. Which is why she gets frustrated easily when she can't express herself.
So even if I can't understand what she is trying to tell me, I just listen. I let her know I am here, I love her, and I am a safe place for her to go and just talk. Building that bond for the future, when she is older and may feel she has no one to turn to.
3. Let Them Know You Understand
You were a child once, you have been in their shoes. Let them know you can relate and understand what they are going through. Find common ground, so they don't feel as though they are alone. Sometimes when we are going through things it's new and strange, so having someone to relate to and understand us really helps.
Your child is a human being with feelings, emotions, worries, dreams, and aspirations. They are just small, young, and learning. We are the parents and guardians of these young children. It is our job to help teach them how to navigate all the emotions they feel, and how to deal with negative ones. How they learn to deal with their emotions now, will determine how they handle them as they get older. It also shows them the role you will play in their life later on. Are you going to be someone they can turn to for comfort and understanding? Or are you going to be the person they steer clear of and avoid?
Navigating this thing called parenting is challenging. We make mistakes and aren't perfect. However, making an effort and showing up for our kids shows we care and love them. There are going to be times where you lash out and don't hand the situation well. Turning around and apologizing for not handling your emotions correctly, show your child your human, and that even you need help sometimes.
Being honest, and real with your children will build so much trust and love. They teach us just as much we teach them. It's one of the joys of parenting.
Do you have more advice on how to deal with tantrums? Do you have any questions? Or maybe you have a story you can share with us. Feel free to comment below or send me a message!
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