Since toddlerdom begins when your baby starts walking and ends with preschool, these years in the presence of a tiny tyrant can seem never-ending! The tantrums they throw develop and change as much as they do. Depending on their ability and/or desire to communicate with you on any given day, you could be in for a lot of mood swings that are, let’s face it, out of your control. While you don’t need to throw your hands in the air and let them eat candy all night, you do need to recognize that this is actually a short season of their lives that you’ll have to ride out.
Bella has had her fair share of tantrums. Thankfully I have been here and done this twice before so most of her tantrums don’t get to me like they did with my first. I am more keen to the game and know a few tricks to help keep me calm while defusing the situation. Here are 9 ways to survive toddler tantrums, which will hopefully leave your sanity intact.
9 Ways To Survive Toddler Tantrums
The experts will tell you to acknowledge your child’s anger and copy his mannerisms to let him know you really understand how he feels. By doing this, you’ll be able to ease him down from the ledge, supposedly. OK, well after you’ve done all of that, go to your arsenal. Toddlers accumulate more toys than they know what to do with, so get on their level and dig into the back of the toy box. Play with something they didn’t know they had, or haven’t seen in a long time. Sometimes, they just want your attention and giving them this play time gives them just that. If you’re not at home, do the same with the diaper bag, things you might have in your car, or simple items that would safe to play with wherever you are. When both my dog and my son are underfoot as I try to make dinner, I break out the basket of fake food and toy cooking supplies that we keep on a shelf in the kitchen specifically for him. He sets everything up and forgets all about torturing the dog.
This one is essentially an attempt to keep a tantrum from starting in the first place. Store away half of the toys your little one gets for special occasions, and take them out when you desperately need something new to entertain her with. This way, you always have a new distraction for a long car ride, a babysitter coming over, or a day when you’re losing your mind. I keep dollar store coloring books and crayons in the kitchen pantry just for something different to break out every now and then.
When in doubt, head to Pinterest. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your toddler’s little mind engaged. Many age-appropriate crafts like my DIY Toddler Finger Paint can be made with things your already have at home, and can buy you an extra 15 minutes of peace and quiet. Seeing those tears dry up at the sight of paper towel tubes will make you feel like a magician!
Try Sensory Stuff Or Run A Bath
If your child is past the point of no return, lost in a tantrum and going strong, you may need to engage his sense of touch to calm him down. You can attempt to put some sort of sensory bin in front of him with something he can squeeze or run his hands over inside, or you can put him in the bath tub, regardless of the time of day. Most kids love the tub, complete with bubbles, toys and soothing warm water. All of this combined with the echo of his own voice might just do the trick.
Like the sensory change a bin or bathtub can provide, taking your little one out into the fresh air, might be the perfect change of pace. You don’t need to bring out toys or go to a playground, but you can if you want. Bella loves bubbles so when she is getting crusty I normally take her outside to play with bubbles. They help calm both of us down. Sometimes just walking up and down the street, or just sitting in the backyard will be enough. Talk about the elements in nature, name everything, and chat about the kind of day it is or what animals might be living out there. Eventually, your little one will settle down to hear what you’re talking about.
Cry it out
Whether you put her in a safe space and walk away, or you put in your earplugs and let her whale at your feet, sometimes when all else fails, you need to let her cry it out. Know that you’ve done your best and that sometimes these mood swings are far beyond your control. If the crying is merely an annoyance, turn up the music and learn to tune it out.
Snuggle & TV
Every child needs something different, which is why advice in books isn’t always helpful. I’ve found that often my son just wants to be held. There are plenty of times when cuddling up with a blanket in the recliner and watching a TV show is all he wants in order to calm down. Often, it’s an inconvenience when I’m trying to get work done, but I remind myself that when he’s 16, he won’t be asking me snuggle anymore. Alternatively, if you must get work done, you can attempt to see if any of these free apps for toddlers would help calm them down and distract them from their tantrum.
If you’re out in public and have tried a number of things to turn the tantrum ship around to no avail, it’s time to go home. This is likely a case of sensory overload and your toddler needs familiarity, a nap, lunch or to simply be removed from the situation. I personally have found that showing my children that tantrums out in public will not be tolerated and removing them immediately from the situation really lessened the amount of public tantrums because they knew mama will not put up with that.
Let Someone Else Try
When all else fails and you’re about to lose your sanity, let someone else spend some time with the little devil. Whether that’s Dad, a grandparent or a babysitter, ask for help. Take a break for yourself. Another person’s tactics may do the trick, even if only temporarily. Don’t take it personally; just be happy someone else has successfully defused the situation.
Do you have any tried tested and true methods to defusing tantrums? Maybe you have a doozy of a tantrum story you want to share? Let me know in the comment section below.