You’re at the grocery store checkout trying to wrangle several writhing children past stacks and stacks of delectable trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup when it hits — the candy-induced tantrum. Your sweet little baby that you so lovingly rocked to sleep each night transforms into a blur of fists and a cacophony of screams and squeals.
Parents have all been there at some point or another. Tantrums are a normal part of development that stem from your children not being able to communicate what they want or not being able to express what they are feeling. Fear not, there is tantrum-free life on the other side of this stage. Here are seven ways to cope with tantrums right now.
1. Don’t try to reason your way out mid-meltdown – When your child is throwing a tantrum, the reasoning parts of the brain aren’t operational. That’s why trying to calmly talk a child through a tantrum will only result in a bigger headache for both of you. Wait until your child has naturally calmed down to try and work things out verbally.
2. Pull a switch-a-roo – Keep plenty of distractions in your purse or diaper bag like toys, games, snacks, stickers, etc. If you see your child is about to melt down, you can divert his or her attention with something from your bag of wonders. If your child doesn’t get his or her way about something, quickly try to change the subject to something else the child will enjoy, like what bedtime story you are going to read later or what toy you’re going to play with when you get home.
3. Learn how to better communicate with your child – If your children are under two, chances are they understand many more words than they can say. Many tantrums at this age stem from not being able to communicate what they want or need. A good way around this communication block before children learn to verbalize is sign language. Learning a few basic signs like hungry, milk, tired, etc. can open up a whole new world of communication for your little one. There are also other non-verbal ways for your children to show you what they want. Asking them to point to what they need or take you to what they’re asking for may help you prevent some frustration.
4. Hug it out. When your child is having a tantrum, hugs might be the last thing on your mind, but this closeness can make your child feel more safe and secure and help alleviate the tantrum before it gets too out of control.
5. Give a little snack. Low blood sugar can cause anyone, even adults, to get cranky. If you notice your kiddo starts to tantrum between meals, offer a healthy snack to see if that helps calm your child.
6. Catch a few Zs. Small children need lots of sleep every night and several longer naps during the day. If your child is having frequent tantrums, set up a nap time to help calm his or her nerves.
7. Get quieter, not louder. When a child is having a tantrum, some parents yell, either out of frustration or simply to be heard over the child’s screaming. As you escalate, so will your child, so quieting your voice and remaining calm (even if you don’t feel calm) is the best way to model the proper behavior. Children will emulate you and eventually calm to match your demeanor. When your children see they are not going to get a big reaction out of you, this may also help diminish the frequency of tantrums.
At Sparkles! we understand children sometimes have tantrums. If you have concerns about your child throwing tantrums, talk to your child’s teacher or contact us. We are here to help and to reassure you and your child.