Your child’s first full-blown tantrum can take your breath away. Sure, you may find the episode amusing—at first. But the novelty quickly wears off when the banshee screeches and floor writhing becomes a daily occurrence. Here’s how to diffuse your little TNT package before things escalate.
Firstly, tantrums are totally normal, healthy signs of development. Because the brain is constructed with a focus on more ‘rudimentary’ functions first—like hearing and sight—those pathways required for emotional regulation, problem-solving, and articulation, are still being laid down in toddlerhood. So a tantrum is really just an indicator that your child is struggling to process the offending situation—and needs your help to do it.
Try to avoid cataclysm by looking into the future. If you have a cookie in plain sight, but don’t want your kiddo to eat it until after lunch, just move it to circumnavigate the very likely meltdown.
Label the feeling
When we give something a name—an emotion, specifically—we can identify it next time around, and pinpoint the steps that got us there. Help your child to do the same by equipping them with names for feelings.
Take care of your own
You are your child’s ultimate role model; how they handle and express their big feelings will greatly depend on how they see you do it. Think deep breaths, or taking a walk.
If you lavish more attention on positive behaviour, your lil’ tyke will learn that throwing a fit isn’t necessary to get you close. Praise them enthusiastically for the actions you want to see; keep your interaction when it comes to tantrums boring and concise.
Choose the battle
Try to remember that your toddler has very little autonomy, and this comes into conflict with a stage in development where they desperately want to gain mastery over their tiny lives. Give them a chance by offering choices: Would you like ham or peanut butter on your sandwich? Would you like your water in the green or purple cup? Simple, but you’d be surprised how this little token of control can ease the tension!