We’ve all been there, the frazzled, red-faced mother with the over-tired, hungry toddler having a meltdown on the floor of the supermarket. Tantrums are unavoidable – or are they? Sometimes distractions speak louder than words … here are 5 new tactics to try.
There is almost nothing worse than trying to negotiate with a 2-year-old in the throes of a full tantrum. Or, in fact, a child of any age deciding they don’t want to do what you want them to do. For the older children, it’s often easy to come down hard on them and bully them into doing what you want, but this isn’t teaching them how to solve solutions in a positive way. If you want to ease your own stress levels and teach your children great ways to solve problems without resorting to tantrums, then give some of these ideas a whirl.
1. Change the subject entirely.
If you want your child to sit still while you put their shoes on and you’re finding it difficult because they are wriggling, try to get them talking about something else entirely. Ask them what they are looking forward to at preschool, for example. It will divert their attention away from their feet and into interacting with
2. Act worse than them.
This works for those moments when they’ve blown a fuse and lost it completely. Don’t act angry at them, act angry with them. Stomp your feet, flail your arms, show them how they are behaving. Often, children are at first shocked, then begin to laugh at the silliness of it. (However, this does depend on where you are – a restaurant, for example, might not be the best place for you to try this one out.)
3. Sell it to them.
If your child hates going to bed, but they love storytime, focus on that part instead. So instead of saying “It’s bedtime now, whether you like it or not!”, say “Quick, go and choose a story and get all snuggled in bed so I can read it to you.”
4. Find the fun route to the danger zone.
If your child loves the park, and always turns on the tears when it’s time to leave, then focus on a fun way to get out of there. Go on a ‘giant steps’ walk back to the car, race them to the end of the park or throw them over your shoulder and tickle their feet as you move stealthily towards the exit. Do whatever it takes to get them distracted, laughing and moving.
5. Work out if they have a point.
A few times I’ve caught myself arguing with one of my children, only to take a step back, actually listen to what they are saying and realise that they actually have a good point. Getting them to blindly obey you doesn’t make for children who are able to work through their own feelings and think for themselves. Sometimes it just so happens that we are wrong – and they are right.
Temper tantrums and power struggles are a normal part of childhood. It’s how our children assert their growing independence and test the boundaries. However, it doesn’t need to be a battle ground. That’s just a waste of everyone’s energy. A change of focus is often far more effective.
By Rachel Goodchild