Meltdowns, fits, tantrums – whatever you call them – they are exhausting for everyone involved.
However, they are a normal part of child development. They also happen to be great learning opportunities for both kids and parents. (Yay, I bet you’re happy to learn while dealing with a tantrum.)
Dealing with tantrums is no one’s idea of a good time, and kids who throw tantrums aren’t having fun either. It’s natural to be inclined to yell at the child, possibly even pop the child on his or her bottom, or put them in their room.
However, many of the traditionally accepted ways that parents deal with temper tantrums are not always particularly effective.
Let’s talk about some other ways to deal with toddler tantrums.
7 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Deal with Toddler Tantrums
#1 Roll with it
This is so hard if you are in public and there are times when it is not safe or appropriate to let the fit play out. But when you can, it can be an effective option.
Here’s why: when we consider the efficacy of child discipline, we need to look at the result. If the result is not improved behavior on the part of the child, then you are not disciplining them successfully.
Ignore it and let it run its course. Try and stay as calm as you possibly can. Model calm and controlled behaviors that you want your child to replicate.
The surest way to raise a kid who screams, and slams doors is to scream and slam doors. (Again, no judgment. Parenting is tough.) On the flip side, your calm demeanor will help them to calm down.
Kind of makes sense when you think about it, right?
#2 Are they manipulating you?
There are different types of tantrums. There may be particular anxiety triggering tantrums. It’s valuable to try and keep mental notes of when tantrums happen and see if you can find patterns.
For instance, do tantrums always start on the way to school? Maybe your kiddo is nervous about their day.
Do they lose it every night at bedtime? Maybe they have fears about sleeping alone.
There are also tantrums that are simply manipulative.
They are used to trying and getting what they want. These are developmentally appropriate, but the most important part of the parental response to these types of meltdowns is that they do not give in.
These are the moments where kids begin to learn about social interactions and the “give and take” of life. You don’t want them to learn that kicking and screaming gets you what you want. (We have all given into a tantrum at some point – because we are human – but it’s really important to try not to make a habit of it.)
#3 Little People. Big Feelings.
If your kid is not manipulating you, then he or she is acting out some pretty huge emotions.
Whether or not they seem to have stressful lives to us, kids experience the world in ways that are overwhelming at times. Everyone is bigger, smarter, more powerful, and often dismissive of them.
If you can help your child deal with their feelings in healthy and mature ways, the need to explode like a ticking time bomb should dissipate as they get older. But it is a learning process.
Kids who do not learn how to communicate about their emotions are bound to have tantrums and fits. There’s a buildup of pressure that happens inside of any human who holds in feelings. Kids have tantrums for the same reason that adults make mistakes when they are upset. We are human.
#4 Choosing Battles
At the end of the day, if you start a battle you have to win it. You have to be sure to be setting boundaries constantly that let the kid know that you are completely in control.
This is not because you are an evil dictator. It is because you love them enough to know that they need someone else running the show for them.
Parenting is about making choices. Kids are just not ready to make big decisions. So, you must make them.
However – and this is a big HOWEVER – small decisions can easily be left to children and will allow them to feel like they have some semblance of control over their life.
For example, let your child pick his or her own clothes in the morning from a pile of options that you choose. Or, let them pick the restaurant for dinner occasionally – even if it is Chuck E. Cheese.
#5 Distract, Defer, Re-direct
In the moment of a meltdown, when your child is at their lowest point, be calm and kind. Remind them that they are loved and cherished even if they are being huge jerks.
Try and change the subject or move them into a new frame of mind.
If he or she is trying to manipulate you, let them know that you understand exactly what they want but that you are not giving in and you would like to move on with your day in a peaceful manner.
Give them that option as an “out” if you will.
#6 Laughter is the best medicine
Again, this has to do with distracting, but it also has to do with seeing the big picture and letting your kid know that big emotions do pass.
You have the power to change the mood. Don’t laugh at them but laugh about something.
#7 Send yourself to “time-out”
Parenting is a really, extremely, unbelievably difficult and exhausting job (at times). It sort of makes you feel like you are losing it sometimes. You really can start to question your own sanity or capabilities.
If you simply cannot deal with the behavior anymore, allow yourself the option to take a time-out to chill out and re-think your next move.
It’s not hard. Just put your child somewhere safe and then go behind a closed door and calm down. Think about your child’s behaviors rationally and logically because that is what they need from you. Then, re-enter the situation when you feel ready.
There’s no need to sugarcoat it – tantrums are awful. But, try and remember that they are awful for the little one, as well.
Children who are losing control are not at their best and parents often spiral downward with them. This is not helpful or healthy.
It is completely understandable why parents get so overwhelmed that they end up yelling and screaming, as well. If a parent ever tells you that they have never felt that way – they are lying… or should be nominated for sainthood.
Conquering the Toddler Tantrum is Possible
No one around here claims to be a saint, and kids are challenging to raise even when they are being good.
But parenting is a special job and we are lucky to get to be the ones to teach them all about life. Try and remember that next time you feel like you might just pack a duffel bag and run for the hills.
Better yet, try out some of these ideas and see if you get better results.
What are some ways you’ve found effective for dealing with toddler tantrums? Leave a comment below!