Oh, the dreaded toddler tantrum. Bless our sweet little mama (and daddy) hearts. One minute little Johnny Junior is as happy as can be — and then in the blink of an eye, he’s on the floor howling and screaming and pounding his chubby little fists as if all you-know-what had broken loose. Because you got him the wrong sippy cup. Foolish, mommy.
If you have a toddler in the house, you know exactly what we are talking about. You are probably experiencing a similar situation (or ten) on the daily. Trust that you are #notalone. And much like anything else, this too shall pass. But in the meantime, here are a few helpful tips and tricks for #tamingthetantrum.
- Distract and discourage.
Try to quickly and strategically divert your little one’s attention away from whatever it is that’s upsetting her. This may mean engaging in a quick game of tag (if not waiting in a public place), or breaking out into her favorite song and dance — Let it Go is still a favorite in our household. Because tantrums are often a cry for attention, grab her attention and have some fun!
- Make ‘em laugh.
What’s the best medicine for an ETT (Epic Toddler Tantrum)? Laughter, of course! Tell him his favorite joke. Or start an ETW (Epic Tickle War). No one can resist a good laugh — not even a cranky toddler. It’s basically science. And the good news? Getting a toddler to crack up is as easy as stealing candy from a baby. (But maybe don’t do this.)
- Play a game of “seek.”
This one is fairly simple. As soon as your little cutie starts showing signs of a meltdown, act very interested in something off in the distance. Say something like “wait, is that a unicorn over there?” (Or whatever mythical creature your toddler is currently into.) After a few minutes of investigation, the two of you will probably determine there is in fact no unicorn across the room, and the tantrum will be long forgotten. This is another form of distract and discourage, and it is highly effective. Just don’t overuse it. They may be little, but they catch on pretty quickly.
- Speaking of unicorns…
What’s the one thing your toddler always wants to play with, but you (usually) withhold from her? Maybe it’s your smart phone, or the keys to the Suburban. (That red panic button is so tempting to a toddler. Am I right?) Let me tell you, there is a time and a place for the forbidden. Sometimes the only way to get their attention — and prevent an ugly, public tantrum — is to present a bribe. And you know what, that’s okay. Just realize that when you take “the unicorn” away, she probably isn’t going to be impressed.
- Speak softly, and never underestimate the power of a sweet snuggle.
We totally get it. It can be tempting to want to match (or even surpass) your screaming toddler’s volume. DON’T DO THIS. This will only escalate the drama. Instead, catch him by surprise. When he begins carrying on, speak to him in a soft, calculated tone. Make him have to quiet down to hear what you are saying. This is most effective when you can get down on his level, and look him straight in the eyes — he will know you mean business. And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to take him into your arms, in a firm mama bear hug, to try and help him self-soothe. Take a couple of deep, calming breaths together. This may also help you settle down. It’s a win-win!
No matter what happens, don’t give into your toddler’s demands. The goal is to raise responsible, well-behaved members of society — not tyrannical, mini dictators. Am I right? So that training begins now. Try to avoid physical punishment in an emotionally charged situation. Stay calm; don’t react in anger. Little Susie is a lot like you — she is trying her darnedest to navigate this toddler gig. Show her the same grace you hope to receive as a first-time (or tenth-time) parent. Don’t be afraid to talk to your pediatrician if you think you are handling something beyond your control. (Or if you are experiencing your own uncontrollable anger issues.) The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask. Good luck! We know you’ve got this. They won’t be toddlers forever. Wink.
What are some of your best tips and tricks for taming a tantrum? We would love to hear! Feel free to share in the comments section below.
featured photo, ‘A tantrum’ by Yong Thye via Flickr
About the author…After three blissful years in the Treasure State, Jessica recently moved back to Houston, Texas with her hunky husband and her two precious little girls, Savannah and Emma Kate. They are expecting a third baby (girl) this summer! Jessica is a small business owner with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and a nerd-like love for political science. She is passionate about writing, marketing, social media management, and this wonderfully beautiful mess we call parenthood.