We’ve all been there! –Your child is having a major melt
down and you are standing there, just not sure what to do.
Here are a few handy tips to help you deal with a tantrum,
but more importantly how to minimise the chance of it
happening again –and lets face it, prevention is always
better than having to deal with your toddler’s melt-down!
1. What triggers your child’s tantrums?
- Pure frustration at their limitations and inability to communicate or control what is happening
- Being tired and/or hungry
- Being uncomfortable or in pain
- Fear, excitement, boredom or stress
- Attention seeking
2. How to keep your cool when your child is losing theirs
- Stop and think before you act.
- Try to act calm even if you don’t feel it.
- Take a few deep breaths. Say the alphabet backwards. Walk away if its safe
- Find something else to do for a minute or two
- Think about how you would behave if this was a friend’s child
- Visualise yourself picking up your emotions and feelings and putting them down next to you. This is going to be a whole lot easier if you are calm and in control.
3. What to do and what not to do when a tantrum erupts
- Use reflective listening ‘You are SO frustrated/ angry/ upset, You really want that toy’. Help them name what they are feeling – it will help them feel understood & diffuse the emotion
- Ignore the behaviour. Avoid eye contact. If you are sure they are safe, move to a different room if possible. Say ‘I will talk with you when you have stopped’
- Consider having an angry corner with drawing things, a cushion to punch, bubble wrap to stamp on etc. Teach children It’s Ok to be angry, but it is not OK to harm people or property
- Help them calm down. After the tantrum say “I’ll help you settle down now.”
- As soon as the tantrum is over give your child a hug and reassurance that they are loved, no matter what. Praise them for stopping the tantrum ‘You’ve stopped crying and screaming. I can talk with you now’
- Don’t lose your temper. Stay in control of your emotions when your child loses it
- Don’t ever give in. Say: ‘Unfortunately now you have had a tantrum I wont be able to give you that, because you might just think that that is the way to get what you want’.
- Don’t say ‘calm down’ or ‘Stop that’. It is not helpful to children (or adults)
- Never use physical punishment
- Don’t give them an audience. Allow them to do their Oscar-winning performance on their own. It kind of takes the fun out of it!
4. How to avoid tantrums
- Talk to your child beforehand about a situation that may cause a tantrum. Use Role play and talk it through to help your toddler learn how to behave.
- Ask them what they might be feeling and ask them what they will need to do.
- Keep asking them how they will need to behave before the situation happens again.
- Give plenty of 1:1 attention (plus 15-20 minutes a day doing something they love)
- Keep triggers (off-limit objects) out of sight
- Give toddlers some control (Do you want the blue jumper or the green jumper? Do you want to brush your teeth before or after your bath?)
- Distract them in the early stages /milder tantrum notice something exciting or fun. Hug or tickle your child
- Be aware of how your toddler may be feeling. Don’t try to do things when they are tired or hungry
- Give your child positive attention when he/she is being good
- Establish clear and consistent limits for behaviour with rewards for behaving well
Let me know what you think or what you do that works when your child has a tantrum