The Terrible Twos: dealing with toddler tantrums

‘The terrible twos’ can be a stressful time for parents.  It’s not easy to understand why your toddler has a tantrum but at such a young age, a child is consumed with thoughts of themselves.  Everything is about them and how they feel.  Until they are taught how to share every toy or piece of food they see automatically belongs to them.

When your toddler has a tantrum in public,  your first thought might be that everyone is focused on you and your screaming child. Getting embarrassed won’t help the situation and of course you have many more years of embarrassing situations to look forward to courtesy of your children!  So worrying about what others think during this situation is simply going to stress you and make you feel worse.

Here are a few tips to help you cope during tantrums:

1. Ignore the tantrum.  This technique works best when at home.  In public places, you don’t want to ever leave your child unattended as a form of punishment.  Good behaviour in public begins at home.  If your child is squirming on the floor screaming for a biscuit, continue to talk to them as if you never noticed.  Eventually, they will get the hint and stop screaming.

2. Avoid rewarding bad behaviour.  In public, toddlers throw tantrums when they are denied something that they want.  Some parents give in to keep their child quiet but a child learns quickly.  Tantrums will continue if they know you will cave.  Simply say ‘no’ and keep moving.

3. Don’t get angry.  When you scream and they scream the situation is wildly out of control.  You’ll end up crying and your toddler will still be screaming.  Keep using the same calm voice you use when they are behaving to get your child to calm down as well.

4. Praise your toddler when they behave well.  Positive reinforcement is better than negative.  In the absence of positive attention a child will behave badly just to get some attention at all.  Acting out and throwing tantrums may be a cry for attention.  Don’t let it get to this point.  Clap and celebrate when they go to the potty successfully and when they put away their toys.  Good manners such as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ deserve a smile and a hand clap as well.

5. Carry snacks with you.  Low blood sugar can lead to tantrums.  If you are out longer than anticipated and lunch or dinner time is close at hand, let them eat a healthy snack to keep their hunger pains at bay and sugar levels stable.

6. Be consistent.  At home, you might use ‘time out’ to deal with a tantrum for bad behaviour.  In public do the same.  Sit your child on a bench for five minutes or take them to the car.  Eventually they will learn that you are not a pushover and they will begin to behave.

7. Make sure your toddler isn’t tired. Tiredness makes tantrums more likely to happen, so try to give your toddler a good sleep routine. If your toddler is awake very early in the morning, try a Gro Clock.

Nip temper tantrums in the bud with the above tips and you’ll find the toddler years easier to survive!


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