Oh, the terrible twos: temper tantrums run rampant and it’s pretty hard to know how to cope. Some toddlers even start melting down prior to turning two; they can occur as young as one and as old as four.
Toddlers are armed with a small vocabulary, a desire to be independent, and an inability to accurately express their desires and feelings, and when you consider things in that context temper tantrums kind of make sense. It doesn’t make sense though for you to just sit there while your toddler spirals out of control. It also doesn’t make sense for you to take their tantrums personally, since it is something that happens! It’s part of life and a temper tantrum is an expression of frustration.
Here’s how to prevent your toddler from melting down, and the art of stopping one already happening.
Prevention Is Key
Prevention is key, obviously, and here’s how to prevent your toddler from melting down.
The first step to prevention is ensuring your child has everything they need. Are they hungry? Did they nap? Are they stressed out? Making sure their basic needs are met, like sleep and food, helps to make sure that they’re ready to handle being in public.
It’s definitely not a good idea to drag them out as you run errands if they don’t have these things met, since it’s asking for them to have a hard time handling things. I mean, if you were exhausted and starving you wouldn’t do so well hitting the grocery store now would you?
Next, make sure you practice consistency and put your child in a routine. Children are creatures of habit and truly thrive this way, and shaking up their normal way of doing things is inviting disaster. Simple things like making sure they eat at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every night go a LONG way. Don’t underestimate this. I’ll bet you do better when you stick to a schedule too; I know I do!
Make It Stop
Ok, if your toddler is already in the process of a full blown melt down, don’t worry you can stop still things.
Make sure you keep your own emotions in check. You’re Mom. You’re in control. If you freak out too, things really won’t get solved. If you cave and decide to give your toddler whatever they want to just shut them up so everyone around you stops staring at you with their jaw on the floor, that’s also not going to benefit you or your child in any way, shape, or form. Be firm, be calm, and let your toddler know it’s not ok to just melt down.
Your next step is to not give in to their behavior and just ignore the screaming and crying. It should stop after a bit. In a perfect world, yes, you can just stop here but that doesn’t always happen. What do you do then?
If it does’t stop, escalate to time out. Completely remove your toddler from the situation that inspired the melt down. Time out is a good thing. It’s supposed to give them some quiet time to regroup. How much time out is enough? The rule is one minute for every year they are. So, if your child is two years old, give them two minutes of time out. If they’re four years old, give them four minutes.