If you are a parent or are about to become one, you need to prepare yourself for those toddler years. Yes, we are certain you have heard of the terrible twos and horrible threes. However, there is hope and every child as well as every parenting style is different. Remember, you are the adult and they are tiny people that don't know how to express themselves, their wants, needs, and desires. Many times they are having a tantrum because they are frustrated, tired, hungry or mad. But, they don't have those words yet. So, to help them express their feelings and emerge from those tantrums, we have come up with some suggestions.
The first suggestion would be to stay calm. Yes, this sounds amazingly crazy but staying calm will help calm them. Don't feed into their energy but help calm it. Remember, you are your child's role model on how they should handle themselves and stay calm will help them in the future. Now, we know this isn't an easy task as the little one is throwing their monumental meltdown right there in the middle of the grocery store.
If the tantrum is happening in a safe location for you to take a "time out" yourself, do that. Don't feed into their energy and allow them to get their outbursts out so that they can move to a calmer phase. Keep checking in on them to ensure they are not harming themselves or others but don't feed into their ways of getting your attention. Calmly suggest that when they are ready to speak to you calmly, you are there to listen.
Yes, if you have a Toddler they will certainly press your buttons in public. After all, that's their nature. When this happens calmly move the toddler to a place where they can carry out their tantrum safely such as the car or outside in a grassy area. This allows them to have their tantrum but not have their public display. It also allows those shoppers that are trying to get shopping done some peace at the same time.
Stand Your Ground
As adults, we think that reasoning with a child will help get them through whatever they are going through. However, this is not the case. This is you feeding into what the child wants and will create a monster in the end. Stand your ground and be the parent. And, remember, they don't have the ability to reason just yet. Be kind, loving and supportive but stand your ground and firm. This isn't a race either if they need a few minutes to go on and thrash about, well, let them. This is a time that they are learning their boundaries and what you will and will not accept as behavior. Toddler's don't have reasoning skills, but this is the time that they are learning them. And, you are their teacher. Which is why it is important for you to understand how to treat them during temper tantrums.
Be there for them
Lastly, just be there for them. Listen, and tune in to their feelings. They are trying to tell you something after all. Make sure it's not that they are tired, hungry or out of routine as these things make a big difference. Try to keep a routine day to day so your toddler knows what to expect. Allow them to cry when they need to as it is a release for them.
If your child is on the autism spectrum be sure to head over to our friends at Autism Parenting Magazine, for instructions on how to handle autism meltdowns.
Remember there is a right and a wrong time to ignore the child. If it happens after you told them they need to do something they don't want to do, it's best to ignore them in this case. However, sometimes they just need you to provide comfort. Use your intuition to know what's best in this case.