Avoid tantrums like a pro with these tips!
I have four sons, and currently, we have two toddlers in my house. It is exciting and fun watching them grow, but quite a pain at times as well. For those of you with toddlers or those who have gone through this phase, you deserve a huge award. It can be so challenging some days! You might not know it, but battling tantrums in 3 year olds is really the same as tantrums in 4 year olds!
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for managing tantrums in toddlers:
1. Ensure your child is getting plenty of ‘good attention.’ Try to catch your child doing something good and reward this behavior. If we only pay attention to negative behavior, tantrums in toddlers are more likely to result. Children will be more likely to out or have a meltdown to get attention, even if this attention is negative.
2. Maintain a routine – kids love an organized and predictable schedule. Many toddlers and children will have tantrums when they are tired or hungry. Try to keep a routine around meal and sleep times. If your child can predict when they will sleep and eat, this may make a toddler tantrum less likely.
3. Give your child control over things that don’t matter much to you. Offering choices such as, “do you want to wear these socks or these?” can provide your child with a sense of control.
4. If something your child wants is off-limits, keep it out of reach and out of sight. Minimizing temptation can decrease toddler tantrums.
5. When in doubt, use a distraction. Toddlers have very short attention spans. If your child is becoming frustrated, change the subject, or distract with another toy or conversation. You can even move your child to a different environment or discuss something your child is excited about. A personal favorite of mine when my youngest wants to stay at the park before bed. Tantrum is looming, and I distract as I start walking away from the park, “what book do you want to read tonight?” This strategy works every single night!
6. Consider your child’s request carefully when they ask for something. Is it reasonable? If so, consider it for a moment before saying no. You have to pick your battles, and if our children only hear no, they will not understand what is possible and what is not.
7. Know your child’s limits. If you know your child is tired, it is likely wise to go home to nap rather than squeeze in one more errand and risk a meltdown.
8. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Parents routinely tell their children ‘no’ or ‘stop,’ the child continues to disobey, and parents just move on. If there is no follow-through or consequences, the child will not listen. If you say ‘no,’ mean it and follow-through, no matter how exhausted you are and how many balls you are juggling at that moment. An essential strategy as you learn to discipline a child consistently is predictability and follow through. This consistency will pay off. Similarly, if you say ‘no’ to your child, they have a tantrum, and you then give in your child will learn how to get their way: tantrum. This will likely lead to more tantrums next time you say no. Be as consistent and predictable as you can be, as this will pay off in spades.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.