Is there a worse sound in the world than the high-pitched screech of an angry toddler? If there is, I cannot remember such a noise. Toddler tantrums may be distressing on the best days; you know the ones: you are at home with nothing planned but doting on your adorable small human all day. But they become downright oppressive on those full days, or, gasp, when they occur in eye and ear shot of others.
Now, I am not new to the tantrum, I throw a few myself from time to time, and survived a double whammy of terrible twos with my twins, but they still slow me down. The twins have all but grown out of these displays but my youngest is deep in the thick of emotional turmoil on most days.
Some days begin with battles over clothes, screaming through the walk to the car, an extended battle at the carseat, and tears over having to get out again. Here are my tips to survive these terrifically awful moments in parenting. I am not an expert in child behavior but I have learned a few things about myself in these situations.
Top 5 tips for surviving even the worst:
1. Take a Moment
Just what it says, take a deep breath, look at the ceiling, whatever it takes to shake yourself out of the tantrum. There is nothing that undermines your position of authority like letting a tiny human dictate your mood. Plus it allows you a moment to remember the cute words you read in “What to Expect” and how useless they truly are. Then decide how to proceed. Picture your parents or partner trying to handle this without you, try to imagine how you would look stomping and pouting, picture your child as a tiny baby; Whatever inspires you to keep a cool head.
Sometimes just your child seeing you smile can make them happy, or maybe confused, but it can snap them out of it. Try to remove the stoic face you make when sternly telling your child something, who cares if the other moms think you are a wuss, don’t let a little toddler trouble bring out your inner meanie. Unless the tantrum is putting them in the way of direct harm, I try to steer clear of the “no” or the stern talk. Reserving the angry/loud voice for dangerous situations is one trick I carried over from dog training. Now, I am not advocating laughing at a child’s tantrum, which I would view as an undesirable choice, but just a kind smile that says “I love you, even when you are a stinker.” Smiling can also remind you that you are in a good mood.
3. Make their concern into a song
This is my favorite thing to do, sing a song back to your kiddo about the issue they are facing. I suppose this comes from so many hours of Daniel Tiger (the show that tells us that singing is for everyone and every lesson). This tip pairs well with the other two and allows for you to communicate in a less intense way. Just a simple “We need to go into the store or we will be all out of food, all out of food” sung to a fun tune can really help. Adding an additional, ”if we can get this done then we can play/have a treat/cuddle” can also help. These songs can become silly when older siblings join in, but often times that can stop even the most stubborn toddler short.
4. Offer affection
Sometimes tantrums are just due to an overstimulation and not a disagreement, try out a hug and kiss for size to see if the situation improves. Perhaps offer the hug in a quite corner. This allows them a detour option, like an exit ramp on the highway. They don’t have to turn around and go your way, but they are also okay with not heading full speed in the opposite direction. I usually carry a small book, snack, or favorite toy in my pocket or bag just in case we need a distraction from a hairy situation. Plus, the opportunity to cuddle your kiddo while they are small should not be missed; your small human will be big before you know it. A hug, kiss, and “I love you” can be just the thing to turn your day around.
5. Quick exit
in the case of the disruptive tantrum, know your options for stealing your child away to an undisclosed location for further action. In all seriousness, toddler size makes them portable and sometimes the best option is to abandon ship. No one wants to leave a full cart of groceries or sacrifice a paid admission, but this is life with a toddler. I recommend the fireman carry for this maneuver as it allows less movement and decreases the chance of dropping a squirmy screamer en route. In the case of the grocery store, employees have been extremely understanding: one cashier even loaded and scanned all my items and then waved me back in the doors to pay. Toddler tantrums are a familiar sight for many a parent or caregiver and most understand the stress you are feeling. Someday these struggles will be a guilt trip you can hold over your child when you need them, just joking.
Have great tips of your own? Share them in the comments below. Raising great children takes a village, or online community.
Good luck on your parenting journey!
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I am a highly opinionated and sassy mother of three and wife to one. I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts to tackle the infuriating obstacles of life using straight talk and humor. If I say it, I mean it, or maybe I am being sarcastic. I like to focus on topics from my everyday life: parenting, cooking, crocheting, and a whole list of other things that inspire my rage.