1. Set the example
This one’s got to be the most important; how can you expect your little one to behave in a certain way if you dont teach them how to do so? If you feel like you’re about to lose your cool, take a step back and have a break – if you react with your own mini-tantrum, your child is going to naturally think this is the way to react to a situation. If something is stressing you out, whether that’s your child or something else entirely, diffuse the situation with deep breaths, a cup of tea, or just a five minute break in the fresh air. Never let your little one see you reacting in a way that you wouldnt want them to.
2. Choose your reaction
Evaluate every situation before you react to it; if you’re feeling stressed yourself, it’s likely that you will over-react to something your toddler does, even if in fact it’s quite neglible. Take a moment to think through on a scale of one to ten how bad the misconduct is, save your bigger reactions for when it’s really needed – if you use your ’10/10 telling off’ on something thats actually only a 6/10 issue, what are you going to do when your toddler really does start World War 3?
3. Positive redirection
If you always focus on what your child ISN’T allowed to do, its going to make them want to do it more. If there is something you dont want your child to do, try and ignore it as much as possible – any attention will make your toddler focus on that thing more.
Instead of getting angry at your toddler for whinging about something, try and work out what they want and then teach them how to ask for it properly. Usually, if your little one is crying it’s because they’re hungry, tired or they want something from you. If you’re in the kitchen and your child is crying, try holding up items of food, saying something like ‘yes mum I would like a banana’. Teaching children how to use their words is far more productive than reprimanding them for their whining.
5. Five minute warnings
Kids usually throw a tantrum when their fun has come to an end before they realised it was going to be over. Diffuse the situation before it begins by giving a five minute warning for everything, no matter how minor it might be. “We’re leaving in five minutes, make sure you make the most of the playtime”, “We’re going for lunch in five minutes, start to say goodbye to your friends please” – the more frequently you use these warnings, the better your child will become at reacting to the end of something they are enjoying.
6. Reverse psychology
We all know this one works, so let’s use it to our advantage with the kids. Instead of saying “we have to leave now,” which will ensue a mini meltdown as little one wasn’t finished with their play, try “let’s go and get some yummy lunch” – focussing on a positive will draw your toddler’s attention away from what they’re having to leave behind.
7. Keep it simple
We know that talking to our children as we would an adult helps with their mental and educational development, but if you’re explaining something to your little one in a way thats too confusing for them, its going to lead to a bigger meltdown due to the miscommunication. If you’re telling your toddler off and they really dont seem to be getting it, try simplifying the words you’re using so that you’re both on the same page. Sometimes, basic is best.
8. Replace No with How
f you’re always using the word “No”, your little one is going to think you’re no fun, and is going to want to do these things they’re not supposed to. Instead of saying “no, dont touch the pet like that,” show them how to gently stroke the pet – this teaching will also allow you to reward them with a positive reaction when they do as they have been instructed.
9. Enforce the boundaries
In a world designed for big people, there are many things that aren’t safe for the little people in our lives, which can often be tricky for them to grasp; ‘why can mummy touch the coffee cup but not me?’ To avoid your little one breaking the rules, explain to them why they are there; ‘the coffee cup is very hot and I dont want you to get burnt, it will hurt and you will be sad.’ If your child understands why they aren’t allowed to do something, they are less likely to try and do it.
10. Never give in
Once you have set a rule, NEVER go back on your word as this is one of the least productive things you can do when teaching a toddler how to behave. Even if it’s just ONE time that you let your child break the rule, they will rememeber that they got away with it once, and they will try and test it again and again. Because of this rule, you need to think carefully about what you say, because once it’s been said, you can’t go back – in the heat of the moment we often say things like ‘you’ll go straight to bed if you touch that one more time’, when realistically you cant send your child to bed at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Armed with these tips and tricks, getting through your next toddler tantrum should be a breeze, good luck!