If you’ve got a toddler you’re probably wondering if he’ll EVER get past the tantrum stage …
And while he will stop having tantrums – eventually – the screaming and shouting can be pretty hard to deal with in the meantime.
Tantrums happen in toddlers when they lose control of the emotional centers of the brain. Whilst this is completely normal, it is worth having some strategies to help him acknowledge how he feels and to calm him down. Let’s have a look at some strategies on how to calm your child’s tantrums in seconds.
For an instant calming technique, rock your child. And yes, that does mean even while he’s mid-meltdown.
Parents and grandparents since the dawn of time will have used physical movement and rhythms that copy our heartbeats or our footsteps. If you rock your toddler in your arms he will quickly focus on this movement, and inadvertently move his attention away from the anger or sadness he feels. Movement is soothing and will help him return to a state of calm.
Talk about something completely different
The key to this tantrum ‘firefighting’ technique is distraction. It could be anything from a dead worm on the pavement to a pigeon flying overhead.
Sometimes toddlers want a quick escape from the overwhelming emotion that has taken over their consciousness.
Switching your toddler’s attention to something absurd or interesting can sometimes have an instant effect.
For example, “Look at that cat about to jump off the roof”.
You’ll know what things are more likely to be compelling and cheering to your toddler, and you’ll be amazed at what a powerful tool sidetracking is.
Learn how to REALLY breathe
When your toddler is having a tantrum, it can be hard to stay calm. But by learning to breathe deeply and speak calmly, you could instantly stop the meltdown.
Your toddler will pick up on the emotion in your voice instinctively, so if you tend to either get quickly angry or panicked in the midst of a toddler meltdown, it’s crucial that you practice and get used to slowing your breathing. Breathe from your abdomen and speak calmly with reassuring authority.
The effect is like a magic spell. Your toddler will naturally slow down his breathing and his rhythm, and once this process begins he will be better able to listen and respond.
Acknowledge your child’s emotions
Toddlers have tantrums about anything. Literally. From deciding they don’t like their snack to the fact they’d rather not walk in the direction you need to go in.
Our emotions are real and our toddler’s emotions are real. That’s not to say that they are not also sometimes seemingly ridiculous, and absurd to us from the outside, especially if the meltdown in question seems to be over something tiny like having too much butter on a crumpet.
So, it is important to generally acknowledge your toddler’s emotion, for example, “I know that you are angry about the butter.”
This will make them feel listened to, and will have a calming effect.
Don’t worry about anyone else
It’s a parenting rite of passage every mum goes through: your child having a very public tantrum. And usually while you’re surrounded by tutting strangers.
But instead of feeling embarrassed and reprimanding your child, cuddle him instead.
Feel confident in the power of your touch as a parent to soothe and calm your toddler, whether you wrap him up in your arms for a cuddle or stroke his hair or back.
This also helps you to focus on your toddler and ignore the sense that you are being judged or causing a scene.
If your toddler knows they have your complete attention and that you feel calm, this is likely to relax them.