How to temper your toddler’s tantrums

When your darling toddler throws a tantrum in the middle of a party, you realize for the umpteenth time that free advice dished out to parents on how to best raise their kids is easier said than done. It isn’t just a matter of why they couldn’t have Coke (‘just a sip or two won’t hurt.’  It is about principles that need to be inculcated and rules that are not to be broken. The best strategy is flexibility and of course, patience. If you have the nerve to spank a child in front of everyone just to create a sense of authority, then you should have the patience to bear the inadvertent whining and of course elderly counseling (‘Did nobody ever teach you how to raise kids?’) to follow.

If you try to make a truce by rewarding the stubbornness of your child, you create problems in future crisis handling. The best solution is to create a win-win situation for both yourselves, as authoritative parents, and your child, as the innocent angel who deserves attention. 

Toddler tantrums can leave you wanting to have a tantrum yourself! However tantrums are a normal part of toddler life. And the good news is that most of their naughty behavior is stuff they’ll outgrow. While your discipline efforts now may seem in vain, you’re teaching your child important lessons for the future. By trying to see things from your child’s perspective, it is much easier not to take tantrums personally, and it will be much easier to help your little one grow through this stage relatively smoothly than if you turn every outburst into a power struggle.

Here are some tips to help you defuse your child’s anger and him/her them get over this phase smoothly.

Compliment into compliance

Sometimes you may end up with a sense of cheating your child into believing they are being richly rewarded and appreciated for doing things your way. But one great method is to compliment them when the rules are not broken. Compliments like “You are being such a good girl by allowing your little baby brother to play with your toys”, or “It was really nice of you to put all the toys back in the basket after play time today” can go a long way to help give the child a chance to experience themselves as successful in relation to the rules and to feel valued.

Ignore your kid for sometime

At least till its over. It’s better than wasting your breath and energy when the “rules” are broken. They are definitely not in a receptive mode to hear your speech, and might never get the message that they were wrong. In fact, you may have accidentally deepened their impression that they are getting more mileage out of negativity. Besides, it somehow pleases them no end to realize they have ruffled your feathers. There is nothing more funny for them than frustrated, out-of-sorts parents screaming their heads off while they are just merely going about exploring the world around them. They may deliberately pick up decoration pieces made of glass or open refrigerator doors just to annoy you.

Give your child some space and time

The key is not to fall into their trap but to help them discover the world together with you. Instead of marking off the limits to which they can explore (‘don’t go near the bookshelf … the mantelpiece …the flowering pots,’) you should create their own space or play area. Fill it with things that are relevant to their world, like walkie-talkie phones, play dough, bouncing balls, kitchen sets, tool kits, barbie dolls or racing cars and play with them too. It is no use having a room full of toys that mean nothing to a child. Each toy should have a memory of a great time spent together. Even having older kids play with their toys can help inculcate interest in otherwise difficult or dull-looking games. 

Divert their attention

Getting your kid engaged and interested in something else so they forget about the meltdown works pretty well. Mobile apps can come in handy while you are on the move. Helping them recall their favourite cartoon character or nursery rhymes works well for some. (“Lets sing ‘I am a little tea pot’ and pour out tea for your teddy”). Some may be distracted by food or toys. (“Lets have some icecream. Will you help me choose which flavour you want?”) It always helps if you sound really, really enthusiastic about the whole proposal. Children have pretty short attention spans — which means they’re usually easy to divert, but you need to act out your role as a good entertainer.

Let your child make choices

This not only distracts them but helps them feel in control. “Would you like to eat apples or bananas?” “Would you like to read a book or build a tower with your blocks?” Then compliment your child on his or her choices.

Hugs help

Sometimes just a big firm hug can do the trick. It reminds them you are there to help and that you’ll love them no matter what.

Speak calmly

Be calm but speak firmly. (“Lets just sit down and not throw things around. Aren’t you Daddy’s little angel?”).

In the end, there is no shortcut to parenting, no guidelines, no schedules, no breaks and definitely no appreciation. You aren’t doing others a favor by raising your kids.  So just enjoy their innocent childhood while it lasts.