When you're deep in the throes of the kicking-and-screaming chaos of a two-year-old's meltdown, it's easy to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even embarrassed. But tantrums are a natural part of child development, and one that nearly all children experience. And luckily, since countless Circle of Moms members have offered encouragement and ideas for surviving toddler tantrums and reducing their frequency, good advice is at hand.
Avoid Common Triggers Like Hunger and Fatigue
As Ontario mom Syvia H. found when her daughter began throwing tantrums, avoiding common triggers like tiredness and hunger can reduce the frequency of outbursts: "In my experience, the single biggest triggers are being hungry and being tired. So making sure she gets enough sleep and eats at regular (and not too long) intervals goes a long way toward reducing the number of meltdowns."
Ignore the Tantrum
Simply ignoring outbursts is the strategy most often recommended by Circle of Moms members. Jess L., a mother of one daughter, explains: "The point of the tantrum is to get your attention, and when it doesn't work they usually stop...We just pretended [the tantrums] weren't happening...As soon as she was calm I would go back and offer to carry on with whatever we were doing."
Ignoring a tantrum doesn't mean ignoring safety, however. Kate D., a mother to a 2-year-old boy, advises: "When she starts to cry and tantrum, you do need to keep her safe and make sure that she isn't going to hurt herself or anyone else." By hovering nearby, you can easily jump in to restrain your child if she's getting dangerously out of control.
Distract or Redirect Your Child
Distracting your toddler can also help dissolve a tantrum. "If she's frustrated at something she trying to do but can't, I try to show her how to figure it out or distract her with something else," shares Joy V., a mother of one. Kristi S. uses distractions, "such as a toy or a book," while Jennifer C. recommends singing: "Sing a song! Kids love songs…'The Itsy Bitsy Spider' always works, or the 'Wheels on the Bus'...It gets them out of that fit moment and wanting to interact!"
Reward Positive Behavior
In addition to handling the tantrum when it occurs, Circle of Moms members like Samantha J. emphasized that rewarding positive behavior is also important in reducing negative behavior: "Remember to thank and praise your child heaps for using manners, playing nicely by themselves, etc. ...It's easy for us as parents to forget that our kids don't just know when we are happy with their behavior."
Offer Alternative Ways to Communicate
Since toddler outbursts are often caused by frustration over communication, teaching alternative communication skills can eliminate the impulse to throw a tantrum. "I'm trying to teach my son to clap his hands when he's mad", shared Heather B., a mother of one. "It gives him something to do instead of a tantrum and I give him attention when he does this. It helps him realize he can communicate more effectively until he can verbalize it." And New Mexico mother Jessica W. found sign language helped her son: "We taught some simple sign language to our youngest...it has helped reduce frustration. He can tell us without words what he needs or wants."
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