No parent has to be told about how frustrating a 2-year-old’s tantrums can be. These usually start off with murmured dissent and escalate into a terrifying display of their lung power. Having this happen at home is bad enough but having it happen in public is the stuff of nightmares.
Not only does it attract unwanted attention, it also gives you anxiety and raises your stress levels through the roof. You can hardly expect to calm your toddler down when you’re in such a state yourself. Though it sounds unconvincing, believe us when we say the terrible two’s tantrums can be kept in check.
No mater tempting it may be, please do not give in to your toddler’s demands when they throw a tantrum. This may be tempting just so you can keep the peace and get on with your daily activities but it will only do more harm than good. How?
Well, if you give in to them they’ll only learn to throw a tantrum every time they don’t get what they want.
Doesn’t sound much fun, does it? There’s no need to worry, though. There are several steps you can take instead reduce the frequency of your child’s tantrums and we’ve discussed a few of them in this article.
So, following are a few tips that should help you deal with your toddler’s temper tantrums and restore the peace:
Investigate The Reason
Most temper tantrums in 2 year old kids occur because they don’t really know how to channel their stress in any other way. A common form of this stress is anger. Stress hormones released in your child’s body heighten their emotional responses making them more intense than they would be in an adult body.
This happens mainly because the thinking portion of your child’s brain – the prefrontal cortex hasn’t developed as yet. This would also mean that there isn’t a proper connection between the emotional and thinking brain.
So, temper tantrums aren’t always indicative of bad behavior in your child. More often than not they can’t really help it.
Observe your child’s behavior and ask yourself if there are any specific situations you can identify that stress them out. Recognizing these triggers should ideally lead to your keeping them under control so as to ensure your child doesn’t have to deal with the stress.
Toddlers have very low tolerance for hunger and exhaustion and they’re sure to be the most stressed/irritable when it’s past their meal or nap time. We’d strongly advise you work you schedule around your toddlers needs to keep tantrums at bay. This can only be achieved with the help of advance planning.
For instance, if you know you have to leave the house for an extended period of time make sure you’ve carried a snack and anything else you need to make your child feel comfortable.
It would, of course, be best if you could get tasks outside the house done at times that don’t clash with when your toddler might need care but if this is unavoidable then you’d best be well-prepared.
Toddlers can also be kept busy and entertained for a while with toys as well so make sure you pack some if you’re expecting to be out long. Also, preparing in advance can include having proper plans to deal with your toddler’s tantrum if their triggers are unavoidable.
For instance, if your toddler tends to show signs of stress every time it’s time to put away the toys, make sure you have a nice reward for them if they obey you. Make sure you stick to your plan too once you make it or your toddler will remember your actions and respond accordingly in future.
Make A Routine
The best way to discipline your child from an early age to avoid tantrums is to create a schedule for them and stick to it. The schedule should consist of time assigned for naps, meals, bath and play time.
Time set aside for outdoor activity would be a good idea too as taking your child out for some fresh air will distract them and help expend their energy in a healthy away.
Make sure you set a schedule that’s not too strict though and make allowances for yourself too every now and then. After all, if you’re stressed and hassled how are you supposed to calm your child down?
Besides, toddlers are extremely receptive and tend to mirror your behavior so make sure your actions are based on how you’d want them to behave.
Reward Your Child
By reward here we don’t necessarily mean material reward. Though you can reward your child with a treat if they behave well and obey you every now and again, you shouldn’t really make a habit out of it.
If you do so, your child may start to expect this every time they obey you and fall into an unhealthy pattern of not behaving well unless you give them a treat.
Instead, we’d recommend you reward them with praise and physical affection. Toddlers love attention from their parents and are sure to respond well if you reward them with, say, a hug every time they obey you. This not only makes your child feel the positive energy when they behave well it also helps strengthen the bond between you.
Don’t Lose Your Temper
The least productive or helpful thing you can do when your child is yelling their lungs out is to start yelling too. This completely defeats the purpose of trying to discipline your child and encourages them to engage in a shouting match with you.
Remember: toddlers are like sponges, they’ll absorb your behavioral patterns slowly but surely.
It’s perfectly natural to lose your composure if your toddler is throwing a tantrum. After all, no one enjoys the red-faced screaming and wailing that defines a 2-year-old’s tantrums. However, you’d be ill advised to let your temper get the better of you in such situations and should work on regaining your composure as quickly as possible.
You could use a soothing voice to help calm your child down and try to reason with them using reassuring words. You’d be surprised at how much your toddler can understand so don’t underestimate the power of words here!
Don’t hold your child’s tantrums against them after they’ve calmed down. Engaging in passive-aggressive behavior against your child after they’ve calmed down may only confuse them and quite possibly bring on another tantrum. Let it go and move on to whatever you have to do next.
This will teach your child to let go of a bad attitude as well. Besides, it’s always a good idea to talk to your child and admonish their behavior when they’ve calmed down even if you don’t feel up to it. Doing this will most likely help you calm down too.
There’s little to no point in trying to reason with your child when they’re upset. This is mainly because during a tantrum, their emotions have taken control of them and trying to get through to their thinking brain is futile.
So when they’re letting off steam, just wait for it to pass (without giving in to the tantrum), then sit them down and try to explain why their behaviour was wrong.
Remember to use simple and kind words when you do so. Using violent language is never a good idea when it comes to dealing with children.
Allow Them To Make Decisions
Yes, you read that right. Your toddler is more capable of making their own decisions and choices than you’d think. Asking them to think for themselves every now and then kindles their curiosity and averts a potential tantrum.
For instance, if your toddler is refusing to leave the playground, ask them what they’d like to do when they get home instead of forcing them to leave. This activates their thinking brain and stimulates rational thinking.
Also, doing this regularly will help develop the thinking part of their brain and prevent the emotional part from taking over.
Curiosity in a toddler often releases dopamine in their brain which further helps avoid a tantrum. Using questions to distract them usually does the trick. Make sure you use direct, simple questions to stimulate thinking.
In doing so, you may also condition them into asking themselves similar questions before they throw a tantrum.
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In conclusion, avoiding a temper tantrum in your toddler is not always possible as they’re developing psychologically at quite a fast pace at the age of two. It’s when they’re slowly learning to navigate and master their own emotions so it’s a delicate period in their childhood.
Being understanding and preparing to deal with your child’s behavior will help them deal with their emotions in a healthy way. In doing so, you will also be able to reduce the occurrence of these dreaded fits of hysteria.
Since every child is different, you’ll have to take the time to figure out which combination of the tips mentioned above will work best for you.