Torturous tantrums and embarrassing episodes are a natural part of raising or caring for a toddler. These little outbursts are actually a positive sign that the child is developing feelings and thoughts of their own. Whilst this is all very well, it does not help when you are in the supermarket carpark with bags and a bawling baby. So what can you do to help the situation and survive the terrible twos?
Explaining as much as you can to a child is a great way to develop a trusting relationship and educate them about the dangers around them, hoping that they understand why they can and cannot do something. With slightly older toddlers, they will begin to understand what you are saying and although they may not like it, eventually, they will be able to accept and hopefully follow your instructions. This may take time but by talking and explaining things to a child, you are helping them to assess the danger for themselves and consider the whole process.
Too young to understand?
Expressing feelings can be difficult for many people but when there is a surge of emotion in a child that cannot communicate effectively and does not understand risk or danger, these little balls of fire can explode into a stropping mess on the floor. If this is the case, it is time to remain calm, make sure that there is nothing around them that could hurt them and wait for them to calm down. Once they have released this emotion and are a little tired, you may then cuddle them and explain the situation to them clearly. Whatever you do, do not give in to these tantrums as a child will quickly learn how to use these for their own gain. Rest assured that most people in the library, shop or street will have suffered these same tantrums and will be silently supporting you without judgement.
Recognising that a child is getting tired and needs to calm down away from a lively situation is a great skill and one that should be cherished. A little timeout sitting quietly with a story or cuddling a teddy bear for a few minutes is a great way to head off a serious tantrum and allow a child to collect their thoughts and feelings. Whilst this is not guaranteed to work every time, it will give you a chance to assess the situation and decide whether it is time to go home or put a toddler down for a nap. Using time out as a way to reflect on poor behaviour will also give the child time to think about their actions and calm down before having to discuss their behaviour with you. Everyone needs a minute to themselves – toddlers are no different to the rest of us.
The terrible twos can be daunting but remaining calm and consistent with your messages and strategies will help. Remember to reward good behaviour and praise simple gestures of kindness to help your charge learn positive lessons, becoming a helpful, happy and tantrum-free child.