Most of us Mamas out there who have children are either experiencing, or have experienced, the inevitable “toddler tantrum” which is really the worst feeling in the world as a mother, because it kind of makes you feel helpless, like nothing you can do will make it better. Especially if the tantrum is over something that you cannot fix….like the toothpaste being pink. (My 4 year old will only use blue toothpaste, and I don’t know why.) In these instances, as parents, we want to teach our children to adapt to their situation, but as toddlers, that means they have a meltdown first.
Before we go into what to do in these situations, let me explain why tantrums are actually extremely beneficial to our child’s growth and long term behavior patterns.
WHY TANTRUMS ARE GOOD FOR OUR CHILD
According to Parents.com there are certain benefits to our child’s tantrums.
- Crying actually releases stress from our bodies. This is a proven fact. Tears will lower blood pressure, and afterward will increase endorphins, much like exercise.
- Crying helps your child to learn by clearing mental blockages that they may be experiencing. Think about certain times your child had a tantrum. Were they trying to build something, draw something, cut a piece of paper, and failing? Sometimes a meltdown is necessary so that a clear head can come back and finish the task.
- Your child will sleep better. Most times a tantrum is occurring is because your little one is tired and restless, and really just needs to go to bed.
- Tantrums will help you bond. After the tears, offer hugs and comfort.
- Tantrums will help your child’s behavior in the long run. Having a big tantrum helps your child release the feelings that can get in the way of his natural, cooperative self.
According to RaisingChildren.net there are things you can do to make tantrums less likely to happen:
- Reduce stress. Tired, hungry and overstimulated children are more likely to experience tantrums.
- Tune in to your child’s feelings. If you’re aware of your child’s feelings, you might be able to sense when big feelings are on the way. You can talk about what’s going on and help your child manage difficult feelings. You might also be able to distract your child.
- Identify tantrum triggers. For example, your child might have tantrums when you’re shopping. You might be able to plan ahead or change the environment to avoid tantrums. For example, it might help to go shopping after your child has had a nap and a snack.
- Talk about emotions with your child. When your child struggles with a difficult feeling, encourage him to name the feeling and what caused it. For example, ‘Did you throw your toy because you were cross that it wasn’t working? What else could you have done?’.
TIPS ON CALMING YOUR CHILD THROUGH A TANTRUM
- Stay calm (or pretend to!). Take a moment for yourself if you need to. If you get angry, it’ll make the situation harder for both you and your child. If you need to speak at all, keep your voice calm and level, and act deliberately and slowly.
- Acknowledge your child’s difficult feelings. For example, ‘It’s very upsetting when your ice-cream falls out of the cone, isn’t it?’. This can help prevent behavior getting more out of control and gives your child a chance to reset emotions.
- Wait out the tantrum. Stay close to your child so she knows you’re there. But don’t try to reason with her or distract her. It’s too late once a tantrum has started.
- Take charge when you need to. If the tantrum happens because your child wants something, don’t give him what he wants. If your child doesn’t want to do something, use your judgment. For example, if your child doesn’t want to get out of the bath, it might be safer to pull out the plug than to lift him out.
- Be consistent and calm in your approach. If you sometimes give your child what she wants when she has tantrums and you sometimes don’t, the problem could get worse.
- Remember, after the tantrum is over – offer hugs and comfort! Very important for your child to know that you are still on their side and still love them the same.