one simple trick to diffuse toddler tantrums

I've mentioned before how blessed I feel I am to have older siblings.  One of my favorite things is that I get to look at them and how they've done things, and learn from them - especially when it comes to one problem that most parents say they have a hard time with -  toddlers and temper tantrums.

I started noticing years ago that some kids, when they really got riled up, seemed to not be able to let it go.  Ever. At all. At least it seemed that way, when they were in the middle of throwing a loud kicking and screaming fit.  But, I've also seen kids who seem to never really lose it.

Sure, some kids are just super mellow.  Every kid has a different personality!  But, when you've seen a kid get really worked up over something, and then you see their parent address it, and that same kid calms down instantly, you know you're on to something, right?

I've seen my sister and sister-in-law do this for years.  I'm sure I know other people who do it with their kids, but I was around my sister-in-law more often when I first had young kids hitting the toddler years, and how she parented was something I certainly noticed.

So, here's how it goes -

Your kid wants something.  Like, I don't know, to eat a popsicle.  But, it's not a good time to eat a popsicle.  You know your kid is hungry, and it's almost time for lunch, and a popsicle is so not going to happen.

But your kid really REALLY wants that popsicle!  They won't take no for an answer.  You can see they are tensing up, getting frantic, and ready to pitch a world-class fit.  Here's what you do.

1 - Stop what you are doing.  Right that very second.  Whatever you are doing can either wait while you talk to your child or wait while your child has a meltdown all over and around you.  Which would you prefer?

2 - Get on their level.  Pick 'em up, or kneel down, or hold 'em on your lap.  Whatever you need to do to show your kid they have your full attention, and that you see their little pleading eyes.

3 - Ask them how they feel.  Some kids will be able to describe it, and some kids won't.  If your kid can't or won't describe how they feel, start giving them a few gentle suggestions, like, "Man, you must be so frustrated right now!  I bet you want a popsicle sooo bad!"

4 - If your kid can tell you how they feel, echo it.  If your kid says, "I mad, mom!  I'm gonna hit you!", say back to them something like. "You are!  You are so mad right now!  You are so mad you feel like hitting me!"

5 - Keep this little feelings conversation going until you can successfully do one of these things -


6 - Now it's time to move on.   I find the best course of action is to get back to what you were doing and have them help however they can.  When they help you, they feel big and important and in control, and that's what every person likes to feel, right?

This is the part where you have to be on your toes a bit. Once your kid has started to get upset, it's easier for them to slip back into it, isn't it?  At the very bottom of it, most toddler tantrums are thrown for these reasons  -

- your kid is too tired! (give 'em a nap or down time)
- your kid is too hungry! (feed 'em)
- your kid feels like he's not in control! (give him choices.  often!)

Casually and calmly address whichever issue you think is at the bottom of your kids' fit.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped me years ago!  I've never really dreaded the toddler years (except for potty training, but that's an entirely different thing!!) and I think knowing about this trick saved me.  And the best part is, you can use this anywhere; grocery store, kitchen, park.

And your kids will be perfect little angels just like mine!

(i kid.)


Martie said...

Beautiful, Christlike advice! And that last picture? I died and went to heaven. Beautiful boy!!

Real said...

See, look. This could have been written on transfigure. (dead site that it is.) Just sayin'. ;)