Parenting definitely has its difficult moments. The toddler stage is filled with a multitude of moods and personality development. I have absolutely been that mom trying to grocery shop with my crazy two-year old screaming in the cart while everyone stares in horror. This is an inevitable stage of life that all parents and all tiny humans must navigate together. Here are a few tips to help keep your sanity and get through the tantrums as quickly as possible.
1. Stay Calm: if you lose your cool, so will your already ill-tempered child. Raising your voice or scolding a toddler while they are already upset will feed the fire. Making it a point to not react will let your child learn that kicking and screaming doesn’t create results. Keep your tone even and go about your tasks as if it’s not even happening. Also, if there are older siblings, keeping your cool during a tantrum will reinforce to the older child to not react or frustrate the toddler.
2. Let them cry for a minute: Sometimes there really isn’t much you can do, but wait until they get some emotions out. All parents get this, so do not panic or feel judged if this happens in public.
3. Try to redirect attention: Given that toddlers have a short attention span, it can be helpful to try and avert their attention to an object or task. Asking them questions like, “do you see the color blue?” or “which of these do you like?” are some solid options to get their focus off of their fit and onto something else. If they are really upset, wait for them to cry for a minute and then throw out some redirecting statements or questions.
4. Do not coddle it: If we grab our children and smother them with love and approval every single time they start screaming or crying, we will absolutely make this worse. You cannot reward bad behavior with attention or whatever object the child is screaming for. This is particularly difficult if you are in public and onlookers insist on trying to help. Reassure them that it is under control and you are working on getting through the tantrum stage.
5. Be patient: This stage will end. All toddlers have good days and bad days. On those bad days, be sure to give yourself a minute to collect yourself if you need it. Understand that your child is not necessarily upset by any particular thing necessarily, but trying to understand their environment and learn to communicate their emotions. It is just as frustrating for toddlers as it is for parents.
6. Consistency is key: Treat all tantrum the same. If you maintain the same actions, your toddler will learn quickly. These are steps that have worked with both of my children, and the terrible twos lasted less than three months for both of them.
It is never easy to get through public fits with a toddler. Figuring out how to deal during this growing phase and accepting that it will inevitably happen will help get you ready to handle these situations. We all want to raise well-adjusted strong children. So mentally prepare, and know your plan for when this occurs.