Thursday, May 31, 2018

5 Tools to Manage Toddler Tantrums

When your little angel steps into the world of tantrums it can leave you feeling lost, confused and frustrated. When a tantrum escalates it can affect the atmosphere of the whole house or ruin a nice day out. As a professional Nanny I totally understand this challenge and have been there many times myself so I’ve put together 5 simple tools that I use in the hope that they will help you too. 

It’s important to note that although we want to be able to deal with the tantrum in the most effective way possible, the tantrum itself isn’t bad. It is a perfectly normal process for a young child to go through as they learn to navigate their emotions. Your toddler is living in the present moment, while you are thinking of a million things at once, they are only focused on what is happening right now, causing their emotions to be more intense.

So we can’t stop toddlers from having tantrums but what we can do is equip ourselves with the tools so that when our little angels are exploring their devilish side, we don’t lose our minds.  

1. Stay calm

This is easier said than done but when we learn to mentally pay attention to ourselves first then the decisions we make come from a calmer and more rational place. We are more able to deal with the tantrum effectively this way as oppose to being in a state of anger or frustration.

When we put all our focus on them, their tantrum actually escalates because they are getting the attention they are fighting for. I teach parents to focus on their own breathing instead and work on breathing down, often before you know it, your toddler’s tantrum has finished and peace is resumed (somewhat temporarily but it’s still peace)!

2. Secure and ignore

Ignoring the tantrum is the most effective way to bring it to an end. Your toddler needs space to get their frustrations out, once they have done this they will often move on. Your role in this situation is just to make sure they have a safe environment to do this; close any stair gates, move any worrying objects, move siblings out the way – do what you need to do to keep them secure.

There are times that this is difficult. For example, if you’re at a restaurant or near a busy road. In these situations you just may need to intervene for their sake and those around you. In some cases the best thing to do is pick them up and walk away from the situation. You have to use common sense here and respond to each tantrum according to the environment.

3. Don’t try to reason

As adults we can’t see the logic in a tantrum, we naturally want to reason with our toddler and explain the situation which seems so clear to us. The problem is that when they are in a state of frustration and anger, they won’t hear you. Trying this approach will exhaust you and get you nowhere. Wait for them to calm down before you discuss the issue in hand. 

4. Use your words wisely

Your voice is the best tool you have to use, especially when they are beginning to calm down. The words you choose to use at this point can be very effective but don’t try to overcomplicate them. Even if your little one has quite an extensive vocabulary, keep your words simple. Don’t ask them questions or give them the option to answer back. A word like ‘enough’ is very powerful and can be very effective here as it stops them in their tracks. 

5. Watch your tone

Always be mindful of the tone of your voice. Keep your voice low right through the tantrum and allow them to calm down without showing signs you are getting wound up. If you shout, they will shout louder. If your voice goes high pitched in an effort to move things along they will just think you are playing and the tantrum becomes part of the game. When you speak in a low tone they will actually hear you better. 

No-one is perfect, no matter how much practice you get with these tools or how skilled you are at staying calm there will always be days when things go wrong, especially when you haven’t had enough sleep. Bad days happen to the best of us, take a deep breath, forgive yourself and start again. If you would like any further advice or support then connect with me today and learn more about how I can help you.

Read more about how I can support parents in person here