Tame Toddler Tantrum With Positive Discipline
How to handle toddler tantrums and misbehaviour using positive and positive parenting.
Handling severe temper tantrums in 2-year(+) olds in public is not easy, especially when it feels like everyone around you is judging you.
Toddlers screaming in public and having epic meltdowns is something every parent deals with.
It can be very challenging when children do not have verbal communication skills to communicate their struggles properly.
While that is not the case, most people understand the struggles of parenting and are most likely sympathizing with your situation.
It is super urgent we don’t allow the uncomfortable feeling of being stared at to influence the way you handle a teaching moment.
I am not a doctor with a psychology degree, but I am a mother of 2 strong-willed boys and have had my fair share of tantrums in public.
My husband and I always use a positive parenting (like inductive discipline)approach to dealing with situations, and I have been approached post-tantrum and complimented on keeping my cool after a complex meltdown.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
*This information is for educational purposes only, if you need medical attention, please consult a physician.
What Causes Temper Tantrums
According to Dr. Levy, every tantrum stems from one simple thing: not receiving what they desire. “Tantrums typically result from a kid between the ages of one and two wanting to convey a need—more milk, a diaper change, that toy over there—but not having the verbal abilities to do so,” explains Dr. Levy. “They become angry and throw a tantrum when you don’t reply to what they’re’ saying.'”
Temper tantrums are more of a power struggle for older children. “By the age of three or four, children have become more autonomous,” Dr. Levy says. “They are acutely aware of their own needs and aspirations, and they wish to express them more forcefully. What happens if you don’t comply? Tantrum town.”
When your child reaches preschool age, he or she can finally use words to express what they need or desire, but that doesn’t mean their tantrums are finished. Because your child is still learning how to manage their emotions, a little dispute can rapidly escalate into a full-fledged tantrum. Because your child cherishes their increasing independence, requiring your assistance might be frustrating. They may lose it if they attempt a difficult activity, such as tying their shoes, and find they can’t accomplish it alone. A angry, screaming kid might result.
It could be helpful to remember that tantrums are not an indication of poor parenting; rather, they represent a necessary growth stage. “Tantrums help childrens learn to deal with their negative emotions,” says Linda Rubinowitz, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and head of Northwestern University’s master’s degree in marriage and family counseling in Evanston, Illinois. “Sometimes, childrens become overstimulated by their newfound independence and meltdown.”
What To Do When Your Child Has A Meltdown In Public
Steps To Handle A Meltdown
The most important thing to do when handling a meltdown is to remain calm and use a firm but gentle voice and keep in mind that frustration and outbursts are common during toddlerhood and preschool years and those blood-curdling screams are not going to last forever.
Chances are, the first time you put this plan into action, they aren’t going to calm down quickly, however, after a few times of going through the same process, the whole thing is going to get easier.
- During a meltdown, your reaction to the behaviour plays a huge role in how the whole thing is going to go down.
- You’ll want to get down to their level calmly
- Explain calmly what your frustrations with the situation are. For example, “I know you’re frustrated, but I can’t help you because I don’t understand you when you scream. Screaming is hurting everyone’s ears. If you cannot calm down, I will have to take you outside for a few minutes.”
- You’ll only need to say that once and only once.
- If a second warning is required, you can give a count such as “I need you to calm down by the count of 3, or we will need to go outside” Remember to use a loving but firm voice.
This is a teaching moment. Your child is having a tough time providing the appropriate response at this moment, and they need a nudge in the right direction on how to handle these situations appropriately.
You are sending a message that the behaviour is disturbing to others, so to be respectful, we need to go somewhere more appropriate so we can calm down.
Fill Their Attention Bucket
As I previously stated, children need and require attention and will seek it–whether good or negative–by any means available.
Assume you’ve had a busy morning of working remotely and completing household tasks. You’ve placed your little boy in front of the TV to obtain some peace and quiet so you can finish off your duties.
There is nothing wrong with needing a few minutes to calm down; even as adults, sometimes we need a moment to get our heads in the game.
After the child has calmed down, you can go back to the situation you left and continue your day.
Then, as soon as you finish your last work call, he storms into your office and begins pleading for food and a new programme.
You attempt to soothe him down by whispering to him and promising to take him to the park later.
However, nothing works. And then, in the middle of the conversation, he throws an enormous tantrum in your office.
It could be tempting to shout back at him or threaten punishment (fear conditioning) once you’ve gotten off the phone, but resist the urge.
Why? Because you’d be paying attention to the behaviour. And that tells him to do it again the next time you’re trying to get things done.
He craves attention, even if it is unpleasant.
Instead, deliberately fill his attention bucket in good ways! You may try…
Spend a certain amount of time each day one-on-one with your child. This doesn’t have to be long–just 10 minutes would suffice–but it should be memorable, and he should choose the activity.
After that, label it!
“I adore our daily Mommy and Son time.”
Allow him to choose his favourite book for you to read to him. Collect some colouring papers and produce some art together. Take a stroll in the woods. The options are limitless.
Not only will you appreciate the additional piece of quality time you have with him, but you will also notice a positive shift in his behaviour.
In the case above, it would be even better to schedule your special time BEFORE you sit down to work to avoid future disruptions.
When you meet his desire for attention in constructive ways, you will undoubtedly witness more positive behaviour. Yes, from a two-year-old!
Use Motivating Phrases
There is a distinction to be made between praise and words of encouragement. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned parents get them mixed up.
It may feel natural to praise your daughter, “I’m so proud of you for cleaning up!” when she picks up all of her toys without complaining.
But you know what’s even better? Encouragement!
Try stating something like, “Look at how clean you made the floor!” You must be quite proud of your efforts.”
This encouraging phrase will also attract a lot of good attention to your daughter. She will be encouraged to keep up her exemplary behaviour.
Give Them Some Power
When it comes to toddler behaviour, positive attention is vital, but it also goes hand in hand with positive power. Your child is no longer a baby and wants to do more for himself, but he is still having difficulty communicating this to you.
You’ll need to fulfil his desire for positive power just as you’ll need to fill his attention bucket.
One of the most effective methods to accomplish this is to establish what we term a Decision-Rich Environment.
This helpful tool is simple to use and has a significant impact. Simply think about the two of you’re daily routine for a second. Then consider how you can give up a little authority and control.
At the age of two, he could be able to pick between his blue sneakers and his red sandals. Is he going to have oatmeal or cereal for breakfast? Should you go to the park before or after your nap?
Allowing your kid to make these little (but major!) decisions throughout the day will give him a large boost of positive power, which will subsequently lower the amount of negative behaviour due to power struggles.
Now is the moment to accept his increasing desire for independence and work with it rather than against it! I understand how difficult this could be for parents. After all, don’t you want to do everything you can to aid your children?
But, in reality, by taking a step back and relinquishing some control, you are really assisting them. It may take some practise, but you will see numerous beneficial changes over time.
Know Their Triggers
Children, like adults, have triggers for their less-than-ideal behaviour.
It’s remarkable how often we dismiss behaviour as just another unpleasant side effect of the terrible twos, when there’s a perfectly rational–and completely avoidable–reason behind it.
Is your child irritable when he misses his afternoon nap? Is he prone to tantrums when he’s hungry? Bored?
We, on the other hand, know our children better than anybody else. And, with a little foresight and planning, we may influence the outcome by avoiding these triggers entirely.
If hunger–or should I say hanger–is an issue, keep a couple of nutritious snacks on hand anytime you go out.
Playdates, appointments, and trips should be scheduled around nap time.
And, if you know your child will be bored, bring along a small book, colouring papers, or a tiny toy to help them pass the time.
Change Your Mindset
Although they have a few years under their belts, 2-year-olds are only getting started on a lengthy path toward knowing how to act appropriately in various settings. You’ve done everything for them up to this point, but things are changing!
With a developing desire for independence, kids are already discovering what it is like to make their own way in the world.
Of course, when their kid runs off the rails, many parents lose their cool. Do they not realize that yelling, sobbing, and punching will only get them in trouble?
No, it does not. They truly do not comprehend. In any case, not yet.
It is your responsibility to teach them.
This is where an adjustment in your own thinking will make a huge impact in how you see your 2-year-behaviour. old’s That, and a great deal of elegance.
Because your daughter is not a horrible kid for tantrums when you informed her it was time to leave the park. When she forgets to say please or thank you, she is neither arrogant or ungrateful.
She is merely a small person doing her best but lacking the necessary capabilities to deal with the issue.
So, when it comes to your childrens terrible twos behaviour, change your perspective and show her some sympathy. You’ll be surprised at how altering your reaction leads to better behaviour.
Taming The Tantrum
Tantrums, power conflicts, negative attitude, and sass are all bad! However, the twos do not have to fit within that group.
I’d want to encourage you to change your perspective on this specific stage in your childrens life and resist the doom-and-gloom predictions that seem to come from every well-meaning relative, friend, or stranger.
Also, don’t be afraid to try out the FREE WEBINAR to discover whether the Parenting Success System is appropriate for you. With these 5 Tips for Taming the Terrible Twos, you’ll discover that the twos aren’t that bad after all.
What You Should Do Next:
1. Subscribe To My Parenting NewsletterSign Up For My Parenting Newsletter for tips on creating a happier home and becoming a more positive parent. As a bonus when you subscribe you’ll get a copy of my FREE Growth Mindset Printout For Kids which is the KEY to raising resilient kids with a growth mindset.
2. Register For A Pretty Awesome FREE 60-Minute Class:Register for a free class called GET KIDS TO LISTEN THE RIGHT WAY; an exclusive FREE class from nationally recognized parenting coach, Amy McCready.
3. Sign Up For A 7 Step Positive Parenting CourseEnroll now in the most in-depth parenting class. After discovering these common sense, easy-to-implement, research-based tools you can learn how to:
- Easily get kids to listen – the FIRST time. No yelling or reminding…not even once!
- Put an end to daily power struggles. Bedtime became a breeze, and all the dawdling, chore wars, sibling rivalry, and mealtime meltdowns disappeared.
- Reduce backtalk by HALF! It’s simple once you know the secrets of these two ‘buckets.’
- Say goodbye to punishments that DON’T work. There’s a 5-step formula that works WAYYY better than time-outs.
- Feel amazing, confident, and empowered as a parent, every day. I NEVER go to bed feeling guilty anymore! (Okay, well maybe sometimes…’ mom guilt’ is still a thing.)
Suggested Reading For Parents:
Suggested Reading For Kids
Tools to help your toddler understand how to calm down after a tantrum.
It helps children deal with overwhelming feelings.
Tired Mom Supermom uses personal experiences and lessons learned from Positive Parenting Solutions Classes as well as research to help you in your parenting journey. Tired mom supermom is not a psychologist and you should seek professional help and advice if you are having difficulties with raising your children.