Tantrums are inevitable. And toddlers know how to time them impeccably to when you are trying to leave or get something important done!
Most of the time it’s over nothing. Like when CJ had a meltdown because he didn’t like the christmas lights! Yes, really!
When my son cries, that upside down smile takes up his whole face. I actually think it’s quite adorable and have to remind myself not to pick him up and squish him with a big hug!
So I do this one thing when he is having a tantrum…
Btw I don’t believe in time-outs or empty negotiations. I do believe in attachment parenting.
What works very well is simply giving CJ the space to experience his emotion, calm down and allow him to regain his control. <– Because isn’t that what it’s really about half the time?!
S C E N A R I O // For whatever reason, he gets very attached to his shirts. Not a specific shirt but it’s a daily battle to get him to change the shirt he is currently wearing. Sometimes he even throws the shirt and stomps on it!
S O L U T I O N // I tell him “You seem upset so let’s calm down. Mom is going to the kitchen now. Let me know when YOU are ready to put on your shirt.”
That’s it. One simple sentence to show 1) acknowledgement, 2) let him know you are close by if he needs you and 3) give him the power to decide.
It usually takes less than 5 mins and he’ll come to me saying “I’m ready now”. Lately he’s even added “I’m sorry Mom”!
If you are out you can still do this. Obviously don’t disappear out of sight! Step aside far enough so he has space and continue shopping, sit on a park bench or keep doing what you were doing. Yes, people will stare but honestly, this usually works better for us than a desperate bribe (which basically is just a temporary fix).
I am also making a conscious effort not to guilt trip. Lately I caught myself saying “Mom gave you a cookie already so put on your shirt!” I have since changed it up to “You ate a yummy cookie right? Now it is time to work together to put on that shirt.”
L E S S O N L E A R N E D // Words matter.
Try this and let me know how it works out! I’ll also love to hear how you manage toddler tantrums.