Saturday, November 12, 2011

Minor meltdowns

Are you dealing with toddler tantrums? Try these tricks to tame your tot
My youngest stomps her feet, lets out an ear-piercing scream and then throws her body on the floor in a rage.
She’s having a tantrum, and since I can say I’ve “been there, done that”, it doesn’t faze me quite as much as it did with my first born.
But that doesn’t mean tantrums are just something to get used to, because there are many differences between one toddler and the next and it’s these differences that can leave some parents tearing their hair out and others smiling as if they have been given a secret recipe for taming their child.
Toddlers are extremely self-absorbed, developing their own personalities and learning about how the world works.
Tantrums are the most common way for a toddler to let out their anger, frustration, fear, jealousy or other similar feelings.
Often tantrums come from being unable to do something that they can’t yet do, such as dress themselves, or being prevented from having or doing something, such as getting a sweet treat from the supermarket.
Toddlers don’t have the inner strength that adults have to be able to cope with stress and frustration, even if it appears to be over something very trivial.
They also don’t often have the words to express what they need or want, so this is where parents need to get down at their level and show a lot of patience.
Young children often learn that parents will give in to what they want if they carry on long enough, so do not give in.
If your toddler learns that tantrums are having an effect on your behaviour towards them, they will end up throwing deliberate tantrums well into their fourth and fifth years to get whatever they want.
Say “no” and give them a reason why you are saying no, such as “You can’t have an iceblock because it’s almost time for dinner”.
Also remember that saying “maybe” means “yes” to every child, no matter what age they are!
Try to distract your toddler by giving them something else to do.
Ask them to make an important decision so they feel valued, such as “Shall we have a banana or watermelon for morning tea?”
Quite often the easiest way to stop a minor tantrum is to ignore them. But if tantrums happen often, think about what might be stressing your child. 
Is it because your child seeks attention, is tired, hungry, unwell or are there changes in routine such as starting childcare, or a new baby in the family?
Is your life so busy that you find it easier to give in every time your child has a tantrum?
If this is the case, then your child has learnt that tantrums are the best way to get what they want so they will continue with this type of behaviour.
To avoid tantrums, make sure you spend regular one-on-one time with your child. It’s a simple fact that if you give a child enough attention, they don’t need to misbehave to get your attention in the first place.
Other ways to avoid tantrums include putting things that your child wants, but cannot have, out of sight; go on outings after sleep time but not when your child is hungry; sticking to a routine, especially with meals and sleep times; and make sure there are lots of positive, fun times in your child’s day.


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