Luna discovered tantrums a few months ago and I swear I thought it was going to be the end of me. She would throw herself on the floor and wiggle around, screaming like a banshee. At first I would respond with shock thinking she was in trouble but I quickly learned that she was just trying to get her way.
As a parent you will know that tantrums are inevitable. Your little one will cry when they want a banana then cry harder when they finally get one. It’s times like this you feel like throwing in the towel, but don’t. Your patience is a lot more helpful to your child than giving up.
From one parent to another I am here to share the techniques that we do and don’t use when trying to survive the tough times.
My top 12 tips for surviving a toddler tantrum
1. Stay calm
When I was a regular on parenting forums I read some advice that has stuck with me and guided me through the tough times.
“If you, as an adult, can’t control your emotions then how can you expect a child to”
For me this hits the nail on the head. We need to keep our cool so we can show our babies how to do the same. It is all well and good to plead with your child to calm down but they learn a lot more through example than words.
Show them that being calm will help them solve their issue a lot faster and more efficiently.
2. Get on their level
This is some great advice I got from my mother in law and it makes so much sense.
When you stand above your little one it can be intimidating for them, causing them to ignore you or feel the need to challenge you. Lower yourself to their level so that you can speak to them face to face as well as make proper eye contact.
This doesn’t just help them understand you better, it a respectful thing to do, which is an educational gem in itself.
3. Speak in a quiet calm voice
The louder you are, the louder they get. They want to be heard and if you raise your voice they will naturally raise theirs.
However, if you speak in a low voice a lot of the time the child will quiet theirs or stop so they can hear what you are saying.
Depending on the age of your child I have found that it pays off to ask your child to communicate with you.
Ask them to show you what they want, if it’s something they can’t have then offer an alternative.
4. Use 10 words or less
Try to keep your reasoning and explanations to 10 words or less. Tiny humans struggle with complex comprehension in their early years.
Instead of saying “Sorry Luna, you can’t put your hand in the saucepan because you will get severely burned and need to go to the hospital” try saying “no touch, hot, ouchies.”. Use whatever phrases your child understands.
As they get older, add more words and more complete sentences to help grow their vocabulary.
5. Alternatives and distractions
Try offering an alternative solution to their problem.
If they want a permanent marker, offer a crayon.
If they are drawing on the walls, direct them to a colouring book.
If they want your coffee, hold on to it for dear life! That’s mummies lifeline… But also offer water instead.
Dancing, singing and acting silly can also help make them laugh which will also be a great thing for both of you. It can ease your stress levels as well as helping them smile and calm down.
I choose songs with actions, such as twinkle twinkle little star. A lot of the time Luna can’t help but play along.
As you can see by the two photos below, this can and does work. Luna wanted my Nintendo Switch. She shouted at me and kept pointing to it in frustration. I calmly said “Would you like to read a book?” and grabbed one of her favourites. It took all of 3 seconds for the tantrum to end.
To prevent further issues of this nature, I also moved my Switch out of her view.
6. Make sure nothing else is wrong
Offer food, water and do a nappy check. A lot of times these can be the culprit. Tiredness is also a big one so try putting them down for a nap (if you’re brave enough!)
There have been times when Luna has literally spat the dummy and shouted at me, then after a while I have figured out that she isn’t being naughty, she just can’t get to her water bottle.
7. Don’t use bribing tactics
It is so tempting to just throw your arms up in the air and say “I’ll give you some chocolate if you stop crying”.
This might seem like a good short term fix but you are just shooting yourself in the foot long term.
Yes, your little one has calmed down however all you have taught them is that if they kick up a fuss they will get a reward.
8. Don’t use threats
Threatening to smack your child or take away their favourite toy is in with the bribing category, it just teaches negative behaviours and offers no value to the education of your child.
I personally view threats as an extremely unfair way to treat your precious little one. Remember that they are just as entitled to their feelings as you are with yours. In a world where we are told to “sit down and shut up”, let your child express themselves and thrive within themselves by offering useful ways to deal with situations.
9. Diffuse the situation, and some oils
Essential oils are a great tool in life.
These can be a real game, and mood, changer.
Lavender is an amazing all rounder for calming situations. Add a few drops to a diffuser and wait for the magic to happen.
I cannot stress enough the importance of safety with this one.
Always make sure you use age appropriate child-safe oils and only diffuse a drop or two.
If you don’t feel comfortable with diffusing around your toddler, that is perfectly fine.
An alternative is to make up a roller with calming oils and place some on your own feet. At the very least it will assist you with calmly approaching the situation!
Are essential oils right for me?
10. Go outside
Fresh air will do you both a world of good. The stimulation of the outside world can work wonders in distracting your child and giving them a new focus as well as giving you a chance to breath through it.
11. Let them cry it out
If you have tried calmly talking to them on their level or offering an alternative and they are still shouting then leave them be.
It is important to assess the environment to ensure that they are safe, with nothing for them to hurt themselves (or others) with.
You know your child best so this one needs to be judged by you. A lot of parents will know when the screaming goes from tantrum to pain and if that happens it’s time to step in again.
12. Comfort them with cuddles
Once they have calmed down, most of the time they will want some form of affection. Don’t turn away from them, give them lots of love. Let them know that it is okay to be feeling big emotions and that you are there to support them.
You can never show too much love.
I really hope these tips help you surviving the toddler years.
Luna is still tiny so we have a long way to go, but I am confident that with these techniques in place we can raise a well-balanced and happy human.
I think that the best thing to always remember is that these are tiny humans feeling big emotions, and we are their guidance. What we do is what they learn.
Do you have any awesome techniques you use for surviving the tough days? Let us know in the comments section!