As your toddler or young child learns to communicate their needs and regulate their emotions, rest assured that throwing tantrums is completely normal.
We may not always be able prevent a tantrum from happening, but there are many ways to positively manage them. Keep reading for our Montessori tips on how to cope with toddler tantrums.
Acknowledge that you toddler needs to say ‘no’
Many young children default to ‘no’ during a tantrum because they don’t have the language to express the rollercoaster of emotions that they are feeling.
- It’s importance to recognise that your child’s feelings are often bigger than their ability to communicate.
- Do your best to respond with empathy, and ‘okay’ or validate their feelings.
- Learning to say ‘no’ also marks beginning of your child’s self-realisation that they are their own being. This is both beautiful and bitter-sweet as they grow their own personality and learn how to differentiate themself from you.
Reducing the incidence of tantrums
Tantrums are typically caused by an unmet need which may include hunger, tiredness, attention, and more. Ways to manage the likely causes of your child’s tantrums, and reduce tantrum frequency include:
- Take care of your little one’s basic needs, such as hunger, toileting, or rest.
- Understand your child’s other triggers. This may include changes in routine, frustration when self-dressing, jealousy, or even over-excitement.
- Teach your child about types of feelings, the words that go with them, and discuss how the body feels as well. This will give them the vocabulary to express and identify the strong emotions.
- Role-model appropriate ways to express emotions because children are always internalising the behaviours that they observe.
For example, instead of shouting, you may choose to do some meditation or belly-breathing exercises before using a calm voice to explain why you are upset.
Managing tantrums in a positive way
- Try to stay calm when dealing with a tantrum.
- Give time for the outburst to cool down a bit. It’s best to avoid trying to reason with or divert your child during this period.
- Show empathy. Identify with the strong emotion that has overtaken your child and talk about it. This will help your child critically reflect on their emotions and remind them that you are here for them.
“Just before you got upset, I noticed that when you were getting dressed and were putting your jacket on you started to get upset – why was that?”
“Do you know what happened at that time that made you upset?”
- Be consistent in your responses and strategies to their tantrums; a shift in your stance (i.e., from calm to stern) may prompt a different reaction or prolong the tantrum.
Retain your cool during a tantrum
Parents are only human, and it can be a challenge to keep your cool during your child’s meltdown. Bear in mind the following points:
- You have no immediate control over your child’s feelings, but you can manage how you react, and help them navigate their emotions.
- Try to hold back the humour, as making light of the situation can further anger your child or escalate the tantrum.
- Do your best to ignore the reactions of those around you, especially in public. Afterall, you know your child the best.