When our little ones break down and throw a tantrum, it is tough to keep ourselves from simultaneously having a meltdown. The screaming, the uncomfortable body language and the inability for your toddler to communicate their needs can send parents into a frantic panic that often results in frustration.
As a first-time mom, I found myself a little overwhelmed the first time my little girl broke down into a fit of sobs and screams. Up until that point, I thought that I had figured it out – that I understood the difference between a hungry cry and an upset scream, that I was finally on track with the unspoken rules of being a good mom.
Not only did I feel helpless, I also couldn’t hold back my horror as my toddler was grasping at her hair in an attempt to pull it out. This first encounter is one that I will always remember, as so many new parents do. Her little face was tomato-red and I had no idea how to handle her meltdown. It took more than just one horrific tantrum for me to learn how to cope with the ordeal and address it without anger or frustration.
I had to learn very quickly that it was not about reprimanding my little girl for her bad behaviour but all about learning how to walk her through the process of expressing her needs and coping with her feelings. Granted, it took a quick trip to the bookstore followed by hours and hours of reading through best-selling parenting books, and often included hours spent on the internet looking for helpful blogs that could offer some advice.
The most useful thing that I learnt was that while adults are able to cope with their emotions, children between the ages of one and four have not yet developed these coping skills. Equipped with new-found knowledge, I was able to cope with my daughter’s breakdowns without feeling like I was also about to implode. And so, because I understand the dismay that parents experience during a tantrum, here are a handful of simple tips on how to handle your toddler's tantrums:
- It’s important to try to limit any sort of arguing or reasoning with your little one. When a tantrum strikes, your child is often beyond understanding any type of reasoning and it can only make things worse.
- As tough as it is, try to not scream back at your little one.
- Although immediate punishment might seem like the answer to addressing a tantrum, I learnt that it’s important to not allow my child to feel punished.
- At first, I used to treat my daughter as if she were made of glass after an episode but soon learnt (the hard way) that I shouldn’t have let the tantrums make me feel embarrassed or guilty.
I can understand that these tips may work for some parents and not for others, but my little girl responded rather well to my consistency when it came to the way in which I reacted to her tantrums. Once you’ve applied these tips and your little one has calmed down, ensure that you make use of some kind of soothing music, essential oils in their bath or wash their linen or PJs with a Lavender scented fabric conditioner that is sure to sooth them and make them feel at ease.