It seems to happen overnight – your precious bundle of newborn joy has become a kicking, screaming, biting, hitting, bundle of terror. But don’t lose hope, there are many ways you can avoid the dreaded tantrum. Here are some simple tips on managing what is completely normal toddler behaviour.
1. ELIMINATE SITUATIONS
Where you know your child will feel overwhelmed, or in places that are not child-friendly, simply avoid. It cannot always be avoided but when possible choose more suitable outings.
2. SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
When children know what is expected of them, they begin to understand appropriate parameters and are more likely to comply.
3. ENSURE CONSEQUENCES ARE CONSISTENT
It’s important to be aware of your child’s level of understanding and respond appropriately. You cannot have the same expectations of a two-year-old that you would of a four-year-old. They need to be realistic expectations.
Always model acceptable and appropriate behaviours because you are by far her greatest influence. If you begin to feel frustrated and you know your child will see that in you, walk away and then re-engage again when you feel calmer.
5. BE PROACTIVE AND TIMELY
Don’t wait until things have escalated or it will be harder to calm your child. When it comes to sharing, get involved and tackle situations where children do not yet have the skill to share. ‘Your turn, my turn’ models a positive situation where everyone’s needs are met or you could always set a timer and inform your little one that when the timer goes off it is then her turn to pass the toy over. This gives your child a sense of power over the situation.
6. POSITIVELY ENGAGE YOUR CHILD
When she’s losing it, make eye contact, grasp her hand gently or put your hand on her shoulder. Making some kind of physical contact lets her know you are there and that her safety is paramount.
7. ALLOW TIME TO COOL DOWN
Children are incapable of taking in what you are saying when they are in a heightened state of stress, anger or frustration.
8. SHOW EMPATHY
Acknowledge that your child is upset with empathy and affection. Respond to their feelings and give a couple of options of what to do, instead of telling the child what not to do. It’s also important to give opportunities to express their feelings to let the child communicate and then move on.
Validate your child’s feelings and then reinforce the boundary. When she responds more calmly give some praise.