My favourite techniques to help survive Toddler Tantrums
Hello and welcome back to my blog. Today I thought I'd share something we have been currently navigating our way through, toddler tantrums… need i say more? ( if you know, you know ) My eldest, Sunny, is just over 2 and we have been experiencing some pretty big emotions and struggles. This stage is commonly called the ‘terrible twos’. I wanted to share some current favourite techniques I have been personally trialling and finding helpful to try to avoid a tantrum before it begins and also how to help you both get through them quicker.
Let's try to AVOID the Tantrum
My first and favourite technique so far is ‘Hand them some power/let them make a selective decision’ . I have found this to be extremely helpful in many battle-like situations. Such as trying to get in the car, the bath, the dinner table, bed time, when leaving the park/fun activity.
For example I might say:
‘Would you like to walk to the car or would you like me to pick you up and carry you there’ .
‘Dinner will be ready in 5 minutes, would you like your pink or yellow plate tonight’
‘What book do you want to read in bed tonight, we will just do one, you can pick A, B or C?’
Watching how I word things has made a massive difference in tantrum occurrence and it has worked 99% of the time. I feel this has been so effective and successful because she feels more in power and control of the situation and we make these decisions together.
Try rewording the harsh no with a lighter yes let down. let them down lightly by rephrasing the no response into a yes answer for them. A toddler hearing no multiple times a day can get tiring, upsetting and exhausting for you both and I find hearing lots of No’s leads us to more tantrum behaviour, so rewording the negative ‘no’ into a more positive ’yes’ response is a valuable technique in your toddler taming arsenal.
For example, Instead of saying ‘no mummy can’t play right now I’m doing the dishes,’ or ‘no you can’t paint right now it’s too messy before bed’.
Try saying, ‘Yes! Mummy would love to play in 5 minutes when I finish the dishes. Why don't you get started and I’ll join you shortly. Or yes! I’d love to do painting with you tomorrow during play time. It’s a bit too messy to do now before bed. Tomorrow it will be so much fun, we can set it up and paint anything you like, flowers, shapes etc.
Wait till the moment. Going on adventures or getting to do something special is super exciting for a 2 year old, however this can lead to overexcitement and impatient outbursts. I learnt this one the hard way. Do not tell them you are doing something till it's almost time to go, otherwise you may get a mid-preparation meltdown!
The Countdown. This one is a life saver when it comes to leaving the park or an activity we are really enjoying. It is also great to prepare them for mealtime/bath time too. This might sound like; 5 minutes till we have to leave, 2 minutes till home time, do you want to do one last swing or slide? I find preparing them helps them know what's to come instead of a sudden change and overall easier to leave. Especially if we are in the middle of lots of fun.
ALREADY MET THE MELTDOWN…
The Power of Distraction. I've got to give it to my mum here AKA Nanny, I learnt this one from her. Changing the subject or pointing to something else when you can see them winding up is a great way to help distract and calm them. And I’ve never seen someone so good at this than my mum! A scenario for example could be the battle of not wanting to get back in the pram to go.
You could try ‘ I see you're upset and don't want to leave, it’s ok to feel that way. We can come back another day, for now let's jump in and we can see how many birds/flowers/cars we can spot as we walk along’. Then talk about all the different colours/types we might see. Acknowledge their feelings then change the subject, shift their focus and pop them in.
Teach deep breathing. This is a great life long skill to teach from a young age. When the tantrums are about to happen, or I see her getting worked up, overtired or mid meltdown. I lead by example and calmly say, let's slow down, sit or pause and take a few deep breaths and do this together. I do this to keep myself at bay too, because I'm not going to lie, it's a challenging time and this always helps calm us down and re-centre ourselves.
If we are already in a major meltdown ( I learnt this one from Sunny's Daddy ) ‘Can you smell that’ flower/cake/something of interest. This immediately calms Sunny and she will do some big breaths to try to smell. Once this has calmed her down we flow into our deep breathing.
And sometimes it has to run its course, if distractions or deep breathing isn't working I always make sure I am there to offer a hug and to talk once she is finished. I never walk away or leave her alone during a big meltdown. As I want her to know, even if she is feeling yucky, difficult or hard emotions, I will always be there to hold her hand and be her support.
While there is no quick fix and some days one method might work another won't. I personally have found these to be helpful, especially when practiced with consistency. There will be those tantrums that are unavoidable at home, public and everywhere in between. I like to practice the above to do my best to avoid a tantrum, or help Sunny work through it.
If you're struggling and having a tough time, remember we are all learning. We all have good days and bad ones too and try to do the best we can. This age is just a season and will go as quickly as it came, try to enjoy all precious moments and the wins, big or small.
Lastly I would like to recognise some amazing pages where I found a few of the above methods, some good advice and positive encouragement and reminders @biglittlefeelings, @responsive_parenting, @raisedgood. While the ones I mentioned today are my current favourites, you might have some good ones of your own and I’d love to hear them, you can leave me a comment below. My blog is a safe space for mums, dads, carers to freely communicate and help educate one another.