10 Easy and Practical Strategies to Survive the Toddler Tantrums
Surviving the dreaded Toddler Tantrums with honest, practical strategies that work.
One day you have a sweet chubby cherub who is delighted to lie flat on his back kicking his little feet, at peace with being nothing but a tiny speck within this universe, he coo's and smiles as you kiss his soft tummy. Ah, it's exhausting but the love is intense and keeps you sustained.
Fast forward just a few short months and your darling baby is now resembling a tyrannical and irrational dictator.
Woah what happened? We love Hurray for Gin's hilarious drawings about life with small humans.
As a mum to 4 kids, I've been in the toddler tantrum trenches many times. My oldest is nearly 15, my youngest is now 3. You could say I am 'war-weary' now after many years of living with tiny terrorists but I remain incredibly buoyant and upbeat despite the emotional stress.
There are a lucky few (a teeny portion) of parents who never endure the outbursts but most of us mums and dads have to live with emotional meltdowns on a daily basis.
Disclaimer: We did have 1 child who never experienced the outrage and fierce injustice of many toddlers, but mostly we've experienced passionate hissy fits (some tame, some fierce) peppered with sloppy kisses, hugs and love. It makes for an exciting ride!
The good news is - tantrums are totally normal and actually a sign of healthy development. Toddlers are simply asserting themselves and becoming more independent. They feel secure enough with you to let out their fury. They feel safe enough to let it all hang loose! It'll get better once they can say more words and communicate properly but in the meantime, we have to suck it up and try not to lose our minds.
I have more good news for you. It doesn't last forever. One day these crazy days will be a hazy blur and you'll miss the intense passion, the fierce love and the innocence. But for now, let's look at practical strategies to deal with the daily reality of tantrums.
How on earth can parents find easy (ish) and fast solutions to the constant inflow of rage, tears and outbursts?
10 Easy and Quick-Thinking Tips to Survive the Toddler Tantrums.
1. Stay Cool.
The number 1 thing a parent needs to do is to stay calm. If you lose your head and start screaming back at a 3-year-old at 8 am, you're in for a long and rough day.
2. What's Their Pressure Points?
What gets him riled up? Try to find easy-fix solutions. You don't need to win every fight and you do need to pick your battles with toddlers. Be the peacemaker, this is now your newest role in life.
3. Slow down.
If it is go go go every single day and you drag him from one appointment or activity after another your little one is more likely to go loco at you. Try to look at your week and balance out busy days with quieter days.
4. Bribe, bribe and bribe some more.
Seriously, forget about your morals, this is about survival. I always carry some chocolate and an iPad. If you know you can't give your little one chocolate or technology bothers you, always have some crayons, paper, bubbles and balloons in my handbag for emergency outbursts.
5. Let go of perfection.
Always remember that children are humans like everybody else. They have messy, emotional, shitty days just like you and me. Let them express that and move on. It's nothing personal. They may just be having a bad day. When he's having a really bad day and it's outburst central there is no harm in a slightly earlier bedtime for the sake of everyone's sanity. Perhaps tomorrow he will be calmer after a better nights sleep? One can hope! Just remember to go easy on him and yourself. This is a time of major growth and growth is always painful.
6. Avoid sugar - where possible.
We've found that if our kids had a bit too much chocolate or sugary treats, their behaviour started to go downhill rapidly. What we also noted was on the other side, as they 'come down' from the sugar high they can often become emotional, naughty and very fatigued which is a brutal combo.
7. Keep the snacks and drinks coming.
It's been proven that kids need to keep their blood sugars stable or like us, they will suffer and become very grumpy! Who hasn't huffed and been irritated when hungry? Who hasn't had a stinking headache from not drinking enough water? It's a good idea to offer fruit, yoghurt or sandwiches with plenty cups of water to keep them feeling 'stable' inside. If you can predict that 'hangry' feeling you can potentially prevent some outbursts.
8. Distraction is key.
Wow, look a cat on the roof! Woah, look at the stars aren't they pretty! Wow look at that shiny red car, how cool is that! and even, 'play games on my mobile!'
9. Timeout and for the parent too.
If all else fails, there is no shame in good old fashioned time out. Just place your angry little tyrant in a safe space and close the door. Make yourself a cup of tea and return to check on him briefly. Smile sweetly and calmly say, 'Are you sorry for being naughty?' If he throws a book at your head, give him another few minutes to chill out and try again. I think the key here is explaining calmly and clearly what he did wrong and why his behaviour upset you, then offering love and a hug afterwards once he understands. There are lots of detailed strategies on timeout policy that we won't go into here but for more help read this advice.
10. Drink Wine, go to the gym or do what you need to do to survive and find balance as a mum.
Hold onto the fact that toddlerhood is a stage and it will pass.
But beyond that, look into smarter ways to regain some balance or at least embrace the chaos. Get into yoga, meditate, take a bath, go to bed early, have a coffee alone in a cafe, ask for help from friends or family, walk around Target in a haze, go to the gym, knock back a camomile tea - whatever allows you to de-stress and breathe when you are trying to cope.