It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: the toddler tantrum. Whether you’re in public or in the comfort of your toy-strewn living room, there’s nothing that can wear you down faster than a screaming, kicking, full-blown tantrum. While it’s nearly impossible to prevent a tantrum, there are some tricks for handling it like a pro.
Keep Your Cool
Even though your toddler has melted down in zero to six seconds, it’s important to remember that keeping your cool can make a world of difference in the duration of the tantrum. Take multiple deep breaths and know that this too shall pass. Look at it as an opportunity to help him get control of his behavior instead of a battle of wills.
Make It Safe
A tantrum can wreak havoc on a space, but making the area safe for your out of control little one is top priority. Push aside the coffee table, move the blocks out of reach, and make sure there’s nothing nearby that can cause injury. Sometimes, letting the tantrum run its course is okay, but make sure kiddo won’t hurt himself in the process. So, make it safe, then possibly walk away (especially if you’re at home).
Raising your voice to be heard above the tantrum cries is tempting, but speaking quietly can actually cause your child to listen. Yelling doesn’t do anyone any good. I am so terrible at this. Usually, when one of the kids is throwing a fit, so is the other. And then, the baby’s crying. I almost always want to scream at this point (and sometimes I do, I’ll admit), but it doesn’t do anything except escalate the situation.
Watching your child during the tantrum not only helps to keep him safe, but it also gives you good insight into his triggers. Do tantrums happen most often around naptime? Is there a specific food he just ate? Figuring out some of his triggers can help you avoid meltdowns in the future. A lot of times around here, it’s because someone is overtired. When it’s getting out of hand, I try to put the kiddos down for a nap, or even a movie on the couch.
Most importantly, know that you are not alone. Every parent has experienced the dreaded toddler meltdown in public and most definitely at home. We know how quickly it can escalate and how—despite your best efforts—it can be impossible to help your child get control. Shower him with patience and love and know that this phase of parenting will pass. Toddler tantrums don’t last forever!