6 Tips To Prevent Toddler Tantrums

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Parenting: Preventing Toddler Tantrums

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Toddlerhood and tantrums go hand in hand

Toddlerhood and tantrums go hand in hand

Without question toddlerhood is a difficult time for parents, but we often forget that toddlerhood is also a challenging time for toddlers.

Toddlers have to learn that they can’t always have what then want when they want it, they’re completely dependant on others to fulfil their needs, they have to do everything according to someone else’s schedule, and their little bodies won’t quite do what they want them to do.

Until their emotion regulation skills are further developed, toddlers will express their frustration through tantrums – but there are a number of things you can do to survive toddlerhood.

These 6 tips for toddler tantrums will get you through.

Tip #1: Have Realistic Expectations

As toddler’s skills develop and they become increasingly independent it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting too much too soon. Try to be mindful of whether your expectations are developmentally appropriate for your child.

Tip #2: Disguise No’s

Like adults, toddlers don’t respond well to “no”; especially when it’s a word they hear all the time. Next time your toddler asks for something see if you can find a way to say no without actually using the word no. For example, try saying “you can ride your scooter after lunch, right now we can do a puzzle or play with your Lego” instead of “no you can’t ride your bike right now”

Tip #3: Offer a Choice

Helping children to develop autonomy is important for their social and emotional development. Where appropriate offer a choice – “would you like juice or water with lunch?” Just make sure you’re happy with both of the choices you offer; offering juice and then reneging on this will escalate rather than de-escalate your child’s frustration.

Tip #4: Know Your Child’s Early Warning Signs

Tantrums can often be prevented with early intervention so know your child’s early warning signs. Be especially watchful for early warning signs if your child is sick, tired, or hungry. When you notice early warning signs – intervene. Re-focus your child’s attention elsewhere or, if your child is frustrated empathise with their struggle – “I can see your having a hard time with the puzzle. Puzzles can be pretty tricky. Would you like some help?”

Tip #5: Give Time Warnings

Switching between tasks requires cognitive flexibility, a skills that many toddlers don’t yet have. Help your toddler to cope by letting them know when they have 10-, 5-, and 2-minutes left of an enjoyable activity and prepare them for what’s next – “we have 5-minutes left on the swings and then we’re going home to have some lunch”

Tip #6: Give Instructions Instead of Making Requests

Next time you’re asking your toddler to do something listen to see whether you’ve given an instruction (“please pick up your books now”) or made a request (“can you please pick up your books now?”). Requests imply a degree of choice, but instructions help toddlers to clearly understand what’s expected

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.