A 5-Step Process to Dealing with Toddler Tantrums
Toddler tantrums, every parent’s worst nightmare.
Although your first reaction might be to run and scream, we all know that that’s probably not going to solve the tantrum, and it’s definitely not going to lead to fewer tantrums in the future. Believe it or not, tantrums are just as scary for your little one as they are for you. Your toddler needs your support and love during tantrums more than ever!
Here is a peaceful 5-step process to dealing with toddler tantrums.
1. Take a breath
The first thing to do when a tantrum arises is to take a breath and remember that “this too shall pass”.
Whilst tantrums don’t last forever, in the moment they are pretty unbearable to witness and be a part of. By taking a deep breath in and out through the nose, you’re getting yourself into a better state to be able to communicate with your child whilst keeping your own levels of stress at bay.
2. Realize why the tantrum is happening
Take a couple of seconds to work out why the tantrum is happening. Ask yourself these questions to help you find the answer…
Is your child tired?
Is your child hungry?
Does your child have a need that’s not being met? This could include things like not being listened to, feeling confined, feeling unloved, or feeling as though they have no control.
How’s your own mood been today? Your mood will have a direct effect on your child, so it’s worth checking in with yourself here.
3. Understand and validate your child’s anger
Once you’ve figured out the root of the tantrum, get down to their level by crouching or kneeling so that you’re eye-to-eye, and let them know that you understand why they’re angry. Follow this by validating their feelings so that the big feelings are less scary.
What you say to your child might sound something like this:
“I realize that you’re feeling frustrated, it’s ok to feel frustrated! I sometimes feel frustrated too!”
4. Be close to your child
After that, get as close to your child as they’re comfortable with. Whilst some kids need a hug, others will prefer you to stay at a distance and simply maintain eye contact with them.
Whatever your approach is, let it be guided by your child and be willing to stay for the duration of the tantrum. The important thing is to remain calm no matter the route the tantrum takes! This means that if your child is rolling on the floor of the supermarket and screaming, the best thing to do is wait it out.
5. Wait for it to stop
Once the tantrum is over, encourage your child to take a deep breath and keep a smile on your face! You might like to remind them that it’s ok to feel big feelings - naming their feeling can be a really effective way of teaching children how to communicate their emotions.
If their behavior was unsafe for themself or others, take a little time to talk to them about the fact that whilst it’s ok to express our feelings, it’s not ok to hurt ourselves or other people.
Do you have any advice on how to approach toddler tantrums in a safe way? Let us know in the comments!
Writer: Keira Shepherd