I used to casually walk past screaming, kicking toddlers in shops thinking to myself, control your child please. That thought is a distant memory – I’m now that mum whisper shouting at my toddler to get up and hold my hand. My favourite part of a toddler tantrum is when their screaming peaks and you go in-between angry and loving every other second.. “be quiet and get up or you won’t get to play with a new toy”… “Ooh what have I got in my bag, you can have these chocolate buttons if you get up” – the Jekyll & Hyde method. It’s a classic. No wonder toddlers feel so confused and angry, they don’t know which version of mum is going to appear next! It just gets to that stage where you’re willing to do anything to get them to be quiet. The looks from other people don’t help. I used to be one of those people…before I knew the brutality of toddlers!
It’s quite impressive how they manage to make such a spectacular commotion over a toy they can’t have or a door they’re not allowed to open. I’d quite like adults to behave like this just for one day – could you imagine the chaos, ha! All jokes aside, it can feel quite overwhelming if your toddler is throwing a few tantrums daily. It can make that casual nip to the shops an utter disaster. It’s not fun. I can see why toddlers get frustrated – they get to an age where they have the comprehension, but lack the ability to fully communicate their needs or wants. We all know how annoying it is when people misinterpret information over the phone, well it’s like that but on a much larger scale! It doesn’t take away how stressful it is though. I have found a few coping mechanisms…
The first being to use food as a distraction! I will have a certain food which I know Molly really likes and keep it in my bag. I’ll resist giving it to her until she has a tantrum. I know that sounds like i’m almost reinforcing the behaviour, but I’m not. I only use this method if I’m out. If I’m at home I will just ignore the tantrums. The second is reminding them about something exciting. Molly loves colouring so I’ll tell her that we will do some colouring when we get home or wherever we’re going. Colouring is a really good distraction. However, the main thing I do is actually try and understand why Molly is frustrated. A lot of the time it’s because she can’t tell me what she wants. Sign language is really good for little ones, or using sounds. Toddlers find it easy to make sounds, but articulating words is much more difficult. Create sound associations with certain words. For example, Molly now roars when she’s hungry and makes a sipping noise when she’s thirsty.
Sometimes when you’re at your wits end, you have to walk away from a tantrum. If you’re out this is difficult, but try to ignore them and stay by their side. Eventually they will tire! I often leave a toy or something interesting a little bit away from where Molly is laying or stomping! They will become intrigued and soon move on. Don’t place the toy/food right next to them though, as they’re likely to smack it or push it away! I think the key is to wait. We feel pressured by other people to hurry them away. Don’t. At the end of the day, it’s better to wait and deal with the issue rather than strap them into the pushchair whist they fight it and arch their back etc. Ignore the people around you, they have no significance in your life, people really don’t care as much as you think they do. Most people are very self-absorbed!
Toddler tantrums are brutal at times, but I try and remind myself that it’s just due to frustration and it’s their main way of communicating at this stage. Give them space, time and distraction. Give yourself a BIG cup of coffee and some chocolate. It sounds silly, but having something like a bar of chocolate to look forward to can take the edge off a tricky day.
Big love x