My daughter who is now seven, was two-and-a-half years old when we visited an indoor playground. I vividly recall her complete meltdown and tantrum when I said it was time to go home. She threw herself with full gusto onto the padded floor of the play area and began to wail with tears streaming down her face.
At the time, I had twins who were about six months old. I had already loaded them into their car seats and snapped the car seats into the stroller. I was ready to head home and get everyone down for a nap, so I could nap as well. At that moment when my daughter began to wail, I felt like I wanted to cry too. Short on sleep, hungry, and with my hands full with three children ages two and under, I was feeling overwhelmed.
When my toddler’s meltdowns had happened at home, I didn’t feel overwhelmed or flustered. However, when this particular meltdown happened in public, which became the first of many, I wanted to cry, or make her somehow stop her tantrum, or just hide from the dozen or so people watching this situation unfold as their sweet children played happily on the indoor climbing structure.
I tried to reason with my daughter. That didn’t help at all. If anything, that made her wail even louder causing some eyebrows to go up around me. I could almost hear them thinking “can’t she control her child.” My response would have been “well obviously I can’t!” Nobody said a word to me though.
When the reasoning didn’t work, it led to me pleading with her to get off the ground and walk to the car with me, so we could have a nice lunch at home. I then tried to bribe her. I said if she went to the car, I would give her candy. I had remembered that there was a sucker in the side door of my car from the pediatrician’s office that I hadn’t let her have the day before. I probably would have given her $100 in that moment. I just wanted the tantrum to stop.
She continued with her wailing, thrashing on the ground, and crying for several more minutes. Nothing I was saying or doing was working. In the end, I picked her up and put her under my arm and carried her surf board style out of the building while pushing the double stroller with my other hand. Another parent held the door open for me. By this point, I could see other parents were feeling sorry for me in this situation.
After this public meltdown and a few more later that week, I started to read up on toddler tantrums and how to handle them. I found techniques that worked! It may not necessarily ease my embarrassment when they happened in public, but I learned how to handle the tantrums in the best way possible to simply get through the toddler tantrum stage.
We may not be able to eliminate all toddler tantrums, but we can learn ways to minimize them. Below are helpful tips for all parents of toddlers.
Ignore the Tantrum and Don’t Give in!
Your toddler is throwing tantrums because they are looking to get your attention or get something they want. More often than not, they are doing it because they want something.
In my daughter’s case, she wanted to stay at the playground longer. If I had given in and let her play longer, I would have been teaching her that if she has a temper tantrum, then she gets to stay longer.
Never give in to the child. You are reinforcing their tantrum throwing behaviors when you give them what they want. For example, if you are out shopping and your toddler throws a fit because they want a candy bar at the checkout, then giving them the candy bar to make them quiet only teaches them to have a tantrum the next time you are in a store — your child now knows that they can get the candy bar if they have a tantrum.
Don’t give in to their tantrum by giving them what they want, even if it is something small and inconsequential to you. If you have said no, stand your ground. Caving in and giving your child what they want when they have a temper tantrum reinforces the bad behavior. You will end up with a child who throws even more tantrums because you have taught them through cause and effect that tantrum throwing gets them what they want.
Your child needs to learn that temper tantrums get them nothing. Some children do it because they are seeking attention. Give your child attention, but not while the tantrum is happening.
If you recognize that they are throwing temper tantrums because they want more attention from you, then make an effort to give them attention at a later time, when they aren’t throwing a tantrum.
When the child is in the midst of a tantrum do nothing, say nothing, and ignore their tantrum.
I learned very quickly that in the case of my daughter’s public tantrums, I could get them to stop by continuing to pack up our items and move toward the door with the intention to leave. I didn’t respond to her tantrum. Continuing my actions let her know that I was serious and I was leaving the building. It was amazing how she would quickly pick herself off the ground and sprint towards us, fearing that she would be left behind.
I never left my children anywhere, but if needed, I would go outside and stand on the other side of the glass door, watching her and simply waiting until she finished her fit and was ready to get up and come home with us.
When she learned that her tantrum did not get her what she wanted and that she got even less attention from me while she was doing it, her behavior changed.
Avoid Trying to Calm The Child
Instinctively, we want to soothe our child and go to them to try to calm them down during a tantrum. This is not effective with temper tantrums, especially if they are doing it for attention.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, make all efforts to avoid calming the child down. If they are doing it for attention, then you are rewarding the temper tantrum by giving them attention. It communicates to the child that a tantrum will get your attention.
Solve the attention problem after the tantrum by spending quality time engaged with your child. However, don’t give them attention, even by trying to simply calm them, during the tantrum or you are reinforcing the bad behavior.
Warn Them in Advance
I also learned to be proactive in situations where tantrums had happened previously. I began giving my daughter a five minute warning at the playground. She was told on each visit to the playground when she had five minutes left to play and that we would leave immediately if she complained or throw a temper tantrum.
This was a warning that I gave very clearly every time we went to a playground. I always said this in a firm, yet kind tone “You get five more minutes to play and then we have to leave, if you complain or throw a tantrum then we have to leave immediately.” This worked amazingly well!
Letting them know what is expected is what kids want.
Keep Them Safe
If the child is a danger to themselves or others, for example, because they are throwing toys across the room during their tantrum, then physically remove the child and take them to a safe and quiet spot for them to calm down.
Some children need to be held so that they don’t harm themselves. Holding them gently, yet firmly, because they are hitting themselves, pulling their own hair, or slamming their body into walls, is important to do immediately when you see any self- harm take place.
Hold them and tell them you will release them when they have calmed down. Say it gently and with empathy while holding them just firmly enough so that they cannot harm themselves or others.
There is no need to be aggressive or squeeze the child in this process. Take action calmly, but with the intention to cease their harmful activity immediately.
After the Tantrum
Acknowledge that the child has complied by ending their tantrum. Giving a praise such as “I am glad you calmed down” will help to reinforce the ceasing of the bad behavior.
Not rewarding their tantrum is crucial in this process. If you give in and give them what they want and then they stop the tantrum, you are thereby praising them when they don’t deserve the praise because you gave into what they wanted. In doing this, you are defeating yourself.
Don’t give them what they are throwing the tantum about. For example, if it is because they want a certain toy and another child has that toy, then do not give them the toy because of the tantrum.
Praise them for stopping the tantrum once they calm themselves down. If they finish with their tantrum and you haven’t given in to what they were asking for, then praise them for calming themselves.
For example, if they have completely calmed down and the other child is now done with that toy, then you can give it to the child when they are completely calmed. Have them practice asking for the toy nicely. Let them know they get to play with the toy because they asked nicely, they aren’t throwing a tantrum, and because they have completely calmed down.
To continue reading the article, click the link: https://www.lifehack.org/829375/toddler-tantrums