Crying, screaming, kicking, breath holding, hitting, kicking and back arching. Do any of those sound familiar in terms of your toddlers behaviour? They do to me!
Since Mole has turned 1, I have noticed a big shift in her behaviour. She will display a temper tantrum more frequently and although this is normal child development behaviour, I do feel like I need to learn and understand how to behave myself in the temper tantrum situation to stop it escalating out of hand.
I have done a lot of research in this and asked for all of your advice on instagram and I have had some incredible tips. I am already starting to see huge improvements in Mole’s behaviour.
So what can we do?
Understanding the temper tantrum
Toddlers display a temper tantrum from the ages of 1 to around 3. They are just as common in boys as they are girls…This has stopped me from using my favourite excuse: “It’s because she is a girl, they are divas compared to boys”.
Some children can display a tantrum more frequently than other children. You may be lucky and your child rarely has one.
The F Word
I have seen this word cropping up a lot whilst I have been doing my research into temper tantrums.
Frustration seems to be key to what this whole temper tantrum malarkey is all about. Toddlers are still developing their language, so they can’t always ask or communicate exactly what they want. This maybe that they want to go into a different room or be in need of a parent. It can also be that they are just over tired or hungry.
“I do it!”
The hardest part is, as a parent, you can sense danger. So when your toddler is walking/crawling where they shouldn’t and you go to stop them from doing so, they don’t understand why and become frustrated that you are stopping them.
There is also the power struggle of wanting their own independence and learning for themselves. When toddlers discover that they actually can’t do everything themselves they may (in Mole’s case always) display a tantrum.
The experience of not being able to communicate can be tough for a toddler. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. As their language skills start to develop and improve, tantrums will start to decrease.
I have been thinking where I may have been going wrong with the whole tantrum situation. Then it hit me. I have spent far too much time trying to to deal with the tantrum when it is happening and not enough time preventing the tantrum. I just assumed that tantrums are inevitable and there is nothing I can do about it. Which is true to an extent but, still these prevention tips have helped us cut down the number of tantrums.
6 Tips for preventing a tantrum
- Distraction. Take your toddler else where into a different room for something new to focus their attention on. Swap whatever they are not allowed to have with something they can have and make it sound really exciting and amazing. Start a different activity with them if they can’t do they activity they currently want to do.
- Hands off! I keep any ornaments or valuables completely out of reach now. At first, I wanted Mole to understand that she was not allowed to touch the vase, but realistically, I was asking too much of her and got sick of myself telling her “no” and dealing with the tantrum when all I had to do was just move the vase out of her reach.
- Routine. Having a routine helps to understand when your child is going to be hungry and tired. If it is around your child’s usual nap time, don’t expect to take them food shopping and have a pleasant time. Respect their limits.
- Responsibility. This one came very useful to me when I was a teacher. The more responsibility I gave to my students the more they respected me and felt like they had control. Offering your toddler a choice will help them to feel they have control and you won’t be confronted by the power struggle. Obviously, choose your choices wisely. Good examples are “Do you want a bath first or to brush your teeth first? Both will still get done, but, they will have more of a sense of controlling the situation rather than being told to do so.
- Positive reinforcement. Praise, praise praise. I can not stress this enough. Toddlers understand behaviours and actions they display will result in attention. Be sure to really emphasise on the good attention with them, by really praising their good behaviour and give as little attention as possible to their negative behaviour.
- Choose your battles. I noticed that I was becoming Nagging Nancy. It was just too much. Being so strict meant that everything through out the day was becoming a battle with Mole. By choosing my battles I have made more of an impact with her understanding what she is forbidden to do.
5 Tips for what to do when your toddler displays a tantrum
I was mortified when Mole started to display her tantrums one after the other in public. Especially in places that were really quiet and I felt like all eyes were on me to “sort” my child out. Not only that, tensions between my partner and I began to rise. Tantrums can be inevitable and it is all part of growing up, so no matter how much preventing you can do, one will still occur. Here are some tips on what to do when your toddler is having a temper tantrum meltdown.
- Stay calm. Easy said than done. I get so stressed out when a tantrum occurs I start to lose my head myself. Your job is to try and calm your toddler down, so you need to remind yourself to stay calm too as hard as that can be.
- What is the tantrum really about? Understanding what the real problem is will help you to find a solution quicker. Is it that they are actually tired and need a nap? Or perhaps they are in pain with their teeth?
- Different tantrums need different solutions. Does your toddler is want something they are forbidden to have? try to not over explain why and move onto a new activity quickly. If your toddler is wanting attention from their mum or dad, try to ignore them. Is your child is throwing a tantrum because they are in pain? Then comfort them.
- Follow through. Mole’s favourite tantrum to have is one where she doesn’t want to complete a task that she has to do, such as eating her dinner. Let them have their tantrum but, ignore them as much as possible, then come back to the task once they are calm and try again. Following through will make them understand that they will not get away with it.
- Safety. If their safety is at risk and they are displaying a tantrum because they want to carry on, be firm. Take them away from the situation and use a stronger tone of voice. Never give in on safety. Older toddlers can sit on a time out step for a few minutes.
3 Tips on what to do with your toddler after they have a tantrum
- Do not give in. If they display the same behaviour for the same reason, you are going to have to be strong and not undo all the work you have done before. Eventually they will learn but they will 100% test you first.
- Make the most out of a bad situation. Try and reward their good behaviour. e.g. “Mole, what a good girl for calming down.” or” Thank you for playing with this toy”.
- Love. Once everything is calmed down it is extremely important to show your toddler affection. Give them a cuddle and let them know you love them. They will know they have just been naughty so will be feeling very vulnerable. This will not show that you are giving in to their behaviour.
I hope you find this useful and remember, as your child gets older they will begin to grow out of their tantrums.