To a certain extent, tantrums are a normal part of childhood. Even some adults still struggle with tantrums! If your child is having trouble regulating their emotions, try these simple tips to help make their outbursts less intense and frequent.
- Be a positive role model
- Celebrate success and achievements
- Get down to their level
- This helps to get their attention and know you’re listening
- Allow your toddler to explore, unless it’s dangerous to themselves or others
- Divert and distract from potential harm or bad behaviour
- Give clear, simple instructions
- Use short sentences, with 4-6 words in each sentence
- Allow for a sense of independence by offering limited choices
- E.g. would you like to wear the red shirt or blue shirt?
- Allow opportunities to problem solve
- Be available to help if needed
- Spend time reading and playing together
- Be consistent and predictable
- Make your toddler feel safe and secure, and reduce tantrum triggers like tiredness and hunger
Develop routines led by steady behaviour. Our suggestions include:
- Establish a good bedtime routine
- Bath time, brush teeth, quiet time, story time, then bed.
- Establish good safety rules
- Hold hands in car parks and wear a seat belt in the car and pram.
- Let your child know when an activity is about to change. “10 more minutes, then it’s time for your bath. “5 minutes until your bath." “2 minutes." “OK, it’s bath time now!"
- Offer labelled praise regularly
- Describe exactly what your child has done well. “Good girl Bella, you picked up your toys when I asked." For every one time we hear what we’ve done wrong, we need to hear five things we’ve done well.
- Don’t ask questions if you don’t want to hear ‘no’
- Instead of “Do you want to have a bath?" say, “It’s time to have your bath." Remember to transition your toddler in the activity lead up.
- Anticipate safety before agreeing to something
- Before allowing your toddler to play in a certain area or with a new toy, assess the risk and/or harm the situation may present.
- View things from your toddler’s perspective
- What’s fun for you isn’t necessarily fun for them. Consider their height, and imagine what they’re seeing and smelling from that level. For example, going for coffee and shopping isn’t always as fun for them as it may be for you!
- Doing this shows your toddler you enjoy being around them and what they’re doing is valuable. This helps build confidence and self esteem.
- Think about what your toddler needs from you. If you’ve checked all practical things are taken care of, they may want an emotional connection. Spend some time to cuddle, hold, sit and talk with them.
- Encourage your toddler to speak
- Help their language development by asking them to say words. This is the prime time for learning language, so talking and repeating words will help build their vocabulary.
Karitane Tip: Toddlers need love, safety, security, to be heard, and to have boundaries.
Tips for heading off a tantrum:
- Help in difficult scenarios
- If you notice your toddler becoming upset or frustrated, offer assistance.
- Be available to prevent difficult situations
- Look for cues that something might be wrong. You may spot your toddler envying another child’s toy. Before they snatch it, distract them with something else to prevent aggression or a tantrum.
- Use distraction to redirect attention
- Remain calm in challenging situations
- This teaches your child how to manage their emotions. Your toddler won’t be able to settle if you can’t.
- Encourage your toddler to talk about their emotions and name them. For example: “You’re feeling frustrated, because your puzzle won’t fit together." “It seems like you’re angry because you can’t play outside. Sometimes I get angry too."
- Reinforce desired behaviour
- “I’m glad you tried something new to eat." Even if your child spat it out, you’re praising the positive and minimising the negative.
- State this explicitly when aggressive situations arise. If necessary, remove your toddler from the scenario. Always be consistent with this rule.
- Avoid saying ‘no’ too often
- Alternative suggestions include “not now", “maybe later" and “I’ll think about it". You can also link the necessary with something to look forward to. “It’s bath time now, and then we get to read stories!"
Karitane Tip: How you respond to your toddler influences their progression through life. Consistent warmth, safety, nurturing and affection are evidenced to improve your child’s confidence and self esteem.
For more tips on preventing tantrums watch the video below: