I’m not claiming to be an expert on tantrums. One thing I do have is experience and unfortunately lots of it. My eldest had amazing tantrums. To give you an idea of the scale, he once had one outside a ‘Boots’ shop so bad that staff were coming outside to see what all the noise was about and were greeted with a screaming 2 year old, rolling around on the floor in the leaves! With this ‘years’ of experience I have learnt some facts and tips on dealing with them.
- Tantrums are not your child misbehaving. They are dealing with the range of emotions they are feeling in the only way they know how.
- Not all children tantrum, this does not make you a good or bad parent.
- Some children tantrum more often and more extremely than others. Again this does not make you a bad or good parent.
- Do not try and put your child into a carseat, buggy or trolley when they are having a tantrum. This will just stress you both out. See later tips.
- If you can move your child to a safe, quiet place, do it. Even if it means carrying them under your arm. The quiet will help you both.
- Note down where tantrums usually take place and plan for them, for example:
- Play area, give a five-minute warning, then a last slide. Use distraction technique, ie; something left in the car for them to eat/drink. A task/activity for them to do after leaving which you tell them about only as you are leaving.
- Supermarket, do your shopping online, or if going avoid the toy and sweet isles. Have a mini list for your toddler to hold and help you find and a snack for them to eat.
- Bathtime, five minute warning, then a 1 minute warning. Get them to pull the plug. Choose a story before the bath that you can remind them about.
- If you have somewhere you need to be after going somewhere or doing something, allow enough time so that you can go slowly if needed. Rushing and stressing about getting somewhere will make the tantrum worse for you and them. This applies to getting them into something. An example of this would be leaving a play area to pick up another child. Leave earlier than needed.
- Do not go anywhere or do anything when they are tired and hungry, this will end in tears.
- If you are trying to get them in the car seat and they start having a tantrum, put them on the floor in the back of your car (make sure doors are locked) and wait until they have stopped before attempting to get them in the car seat. Play the radio/music whilst you are waiting. This also works if you have to leave somewhere. Your car is always a quiet place to take your child to calm down away from stares.
- If your child hurts themselves when having a tantrum a bear hug from behind whilst sitting the child in your lap may help.
- Stay close to your child but don’t try reasoning with them. Say reassuring things like “It’s ok im here”.
- If you feel yourself getting angry count and try and slow your breathing. At some point they will take a breath, calm yourself for that few seconds.
- Remember the tantrum will eventually stop.
- If you need to and it is safe to do so, step outside the room.
- Use positive praise in situations where they tend to happen. For example the play area, “You came when I asked you, well done.” “You got your shoes on first time, that really helped mummy.” Bathtime, “You pulled that plug all by yourself, what a helpful boy you are.”
- Acknowledge their feelings, I can see/ I understand you are angry. I know that must have made you upset. Give their feelings names and it will help them to be able to talk about them instead of having a tantrum, this takes time.
- Try not to shout/ scream/ cry with them. Don’t feel bad if you do, you are only human.
- Have regular routines in place in the mornings and bedtime in particular.
- Out for the day, allow for naps and snacks.
- If your child is tantruming a lot, be kind to yourself and have some time out.
- Try to spot when your child is starting to get annoyed or upset talk to them about their feelings.
- Accept that sometimes they are inevitable. If one is brewing you can manage to keep it at bay all day only for it to happen at tea time/ bathtime/ bedtime. If this happens instead of being upset try and remember that at least it is at home.
- Ignore comments. I know that is easier said than done. For every stranger that doesn’t understand there is one who does.
- Have a friend who makes ‘helpful’ comments. take heart in the fact that their next child may be a tantrummer. I once had a friend who said her child wouldn’t dare to behave like that. Her next did!!
- Remember it wont last forever. My two year old rolling around in the leaves who would tantrum at least once a day, lasting at least 30 minutes is now a 7 year old who still has the odd emotional blow-out but deals with it a lot better. He can spot the signs and takes himself off somewhere quiet or we help him.
- If your first child is a tantrummer, then your second will seem a doddle even if they are exactly the same. My second wasn’t his tantrums weren’t nearly as often or intense.
- Have clear boundaries and stick to them so that your toddler, child knows what to expect from you.
To put this into real life take the scene outside Boots, I was in a rush and I had taken him out when he really needed a nap. I didn’t pick him up and take him back to the car, so all the people watching made him worse.
When your child is having a tantrum you can feel like you are the only one that it happens too. I can 100% tell you that it’s not. You are not alone.