Toddlers are just learning to express themselves and get frustrated when they can’t do what they want. As a parent, it’s important that you don’t let their tantrums control how you react. Here are some common mistakes parents make around toddlers’ tantrums that only make the situation worse:
Don’t take it personally
- Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you as a person; it’s about your child being in an emotional state and needing some help to feel better. If the tantrum is over something that really makes your blood boil, try to focus on how upset or frustrated your child must be feeling to act that way. This will help you stay calm and come up with strategies for dealing with their behavior, instead of reacting in anger yourself (which just leads to more crying).
Let them experience natural consequences
- Don’t rescue them from the situation.
- Let your child experience natural consequences of their actions.
- Don’t give in to their demands, no matter how much they cry, complain and tantrum. This teaches them that when they are upset or frustrated, they just have to throw a fit until you give in to their wishes.
Understand your child’s triggers
When you’re trying to avoid tantrums and bad behavior, it’s important to understand what triggers your child. Once you know what sets them off, you can help them learn how to control their emotions.
- Look for patterns. Think about when your child tends to act out or have a meltdown. Is there any pattern? Do they do this after watching a show on television or during the morning rush hour when they’re in the carpool line? Try writing down possible triggers and keeping track of those times so that next time, you’ll know what might set her off if she starts acting up again.
- How do I respond when my child is upset? Your reaction could be part of why she’s upset! Are there ways that you can stop yourself from reacting negatively so that she doesn’t feel like she needs to go into meltdown mode every time something happens?
- Am I encouraging my child in positive ways instead of negative ones? For example: Instead of saying “good job not having an emotional outburst today” say “good job keeping calm today” or “I’m proud that we were able to make it through our trip safely without having any mishaps — how did we do it this time?”
Reward them when they’re calm
Reward them when they’re calm.
It’s important to give a child positive feedback as they are learning new skills, and it’s also important to reward good behavior and effort. Remember that rewards do not have to cost money; praise and attention can be very effective!
Set aside time to talk about it later
Your child may be asking for your attention, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it. In fact, if you can manage the situation by gently saying “I’m listening,” or “I hear you,” and then moving on with whatever task you were doing before they started having a tantrum—that’s ideal.
But sometimes parents need to set aside time later to discuss why their child had a tantrum and what they can do differently next time. To avoid being pulled into an argument right now, try one of these suggestions:
- Set aside some “tantrum time” later in the day (say when your child is taking a nap) or after dinner so that when he sees the clock ticking down toward that designated hour or two he’ll know they’re going over this issue then rather than right now. You might even suggest using an egg timer so everyone knows when it’s time to start discussing things!
Notice any lack of sleep or increased stress in your child
Some children are more prone to having tantrums than others. If your child is tired, stressed out, or just not feeling well, it’s likely that their tantrums will be worse.
The first thing you can do is help your kids get enough sleep and reduce their stress level as much as possible. You might find that if you make this a priority in life—for yourself and for them—your kids will be less likely to have tantrums in the first place.
Know that tantrums will pass
You also need to be fully aware that tantrums are a normal part of childhood, and they’ll pass. The good news is that they will get less frequent as your child grows and develops self-regulation skills. Tantrums are often a sign that your child is tired, hungry or overwhelmed—so try to avoid these situations if you can.
Don’t give in to a tantrum
It’s easy to cave when your child is throwing a tantrum, but don’t do it. If you give in to their demands, they’ll realize that all they have to do is throw a fit and get what they want. Instead of giving in, try one of these strategies:
- Give them time out — A time-out can be really helpful for kids with ADHD and other behavioral problems because it helps them calm down so they can think clearly. You might also try removing yourself from the situation if you can and then come back when you feel calmer so as not to upset yourself further.
- Ignore them until they’re ready — If your child is having an outburst because he wants something that isn’t reasonable (like being able to stay up past his bedtime), don’t give him anything yet! When he eventually calms down enough for rational conversation, ask him why he thinks staying up late would be fun or necessary before making any decisions about whether or not he should get what he wants at this point in time.”
Don’t lose your temper
- Don’t lose your temper. If you’re feeling any of the following emotions during this time, take a deep breath and step away: anger, frustration, stress or fear. Your child is not trying to make you angry; they are having a hard time expressing themselves and don’t know how else to act.
- Don’t shame or punish your child in any way for their behavior—especially before the tantrum has even begun! You can find yourself creating more problems than there were before by doing so. Instead of focusing on negative consequences like this (or any other negative consequence), try talking calmly about what happened as if it were an accident that could easily happen again next time.
- Don’t try to reason with your child when they are in the middle of a tantrum; that’s like being hit over the head with a hammer while standing under pouring rain without an umbrella on top of Mount Everest! It’s just too much! Instead, wait until things calm down and talk through what happened when everyone is more relaxed and ready to listen—including yourself! This can help prevent future outbursts because now everyone understands what led up to them happening in the first place instead of just reacting blindly without understanding why they occurred at all.”
When you’re in the midst of a tantrum, it can be very easy to overreact. You might feel angry, frustrated, or even terrified—but remember that these are just feelings; they’re not reality. When your child is having a meltdown over something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you (maybe he wants more cookies than the ones he’s eating), try not to get upset or angry yourself. Your goal is to help your child learn how to regulate his emotions and behavior; if you show him that his emotional reactions don’t scare you and make him feel safe with your love regardless of what happens, then he’ll be more likely to do the same himself when he feels overwhelmed later on down the road.
If possible, move away from other people so no one gets embarrassed by any embarrassing behavior on your part (like yelling). If there isn’t anywhere nearby where this would be appropriate for everyone involved—for example, if it’s at work—then try looking for ways for others who aren’t directly involved with helping calm things down (like coworkers nearby) so they don’t focus on anything else but helping out as much as possible without making things worse themselves
Do acknowledge your child’s feelings
- Do acknowledge your child’s feelings. Acknowledge that you can understand how they feel, and by doing so, you are validating their feelings. Let them know that while you may not agree with what they are saying or doing, you do believe that they mean it.
- Don’t minimize their feelings. Minimizing means to make something seem less important than it actually is (the word “minor” comes from this concept). If a child feels upset about something but you say, “Oh stop being so silly,” then what have you done? You’ve told them that their emotions aren’t valid and don’t matter!
- Don’t tell them that you understand their feelings. Telling your child “I know exactly how it is for me when I am feeling upset,” does not help anything because it does not address the real problem at hand: why did this happen in the first place? And unless there has been some kind of personal experience shared between yourself and your child (for example: both of your favorite toys were broken), then chances are these two situations will be very different from each other even if they seem similar on paper.”
Don’t rush to comfort your child
You know that your child is throwing a tantrum and you want to get up and comfort them, but don’t do it! Don’t give in to the tantrum because this will only reinforce bad behavior. If you give into your child’s demands and reward them for throwing a fit then they will learn that if they throw enough of a fit eventually their parent will give in.
Don’t be afraid of being hard on your kids when they are having tantrums either; it is important that kids learn how to control their emotions and behaviors as young children. Being firm with our children while they are young teaches them self-control later in life, which can help prevent future emotional issues such as anxiety disorders or depression. Your goal should always be to teach positive behaviors rather than punish negative ones (more on this later).
Don’t pay too much attention to the tantrum
The first thing you need to know about tantrums is that your child will not be able to control them. They can’t help themselves; they just need a little guidance from you.
Here are five things not to do when your child throws a tantrum:
- Don’t reward the behavior. This means giving in to the demands of screaming and crying, or doing whatever it is they’re asking for (even if it’s something simple like getting another cookie). Just don’t do it! It’s important for kids’ development that parents learn how to ignore or distract them when their tantrums begin, so that their anger doesn’t become too big and overwhelming for them to handle on their own.
- Don’t give in to the tantrum. If possible, try coming up with some sort of distraction while they’re angry—maybe go outside with them? Or maybe read aloud together? Whatever works best in calming them down should be used whenever possible—but always without rewarding the bad behavior itself!
There are ways to manage toddler tantrums that can make them stop sooner and make you feel better in the long term
- Use your child’s name when you start the conversation
- Be calm and matter of fact
- Use a calm voice
- Be consistent
- Use a distraction to change the subject
- Take deep breaths if you feel yourself getting upset or frustrated (this helps with stress-reduction)
- Try to stay calm, even if it seems impossible at first (you can’t expect yourself to be reasonable when someone else is being irrational)
There’s no doubt that tantrums are frustrating, but the key is to remember that they won’t last forever. Your child will eventually outgrow them, and you can take comfort in knowing that your actions today will help your child develop into a more mature person tomorrow.
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.