It is common for toddlers to throw tantrums, but can be quite embarrassing for parents when done in public. How do I keep my kids from throwing tantrums without giving in and handing over an iPhone to keep them quiet?
I believe in being prepared and setting the stage right to pre-empt the eruptions from happening. Here are 6 simple tips to minimise tantrums in young children.
|How to deal with temper tantrums|
1) Ensure their basic needs are met
First things first. Have we done our part to keep them happy and comfortable? Have they had their nap? Have they been fed? Are they feeling under the weather? You can pretty much expect hungry and cranky kids to kick up a big fuss. Keep an eye on the clock and have some snacks on hand if there’s a chance of the schedule running way past their mealtimes.
2) Don’t let your boundaries shift
Kids whine and throw tantrums because they know they will win in the end. If your boundaries are constantly shifting, your child will be confused and the very determined ones would keep up the fight until you give in, whether it is to buy a toy or to get whatever demands met.
When we are tired or in a rush, it is easier to give in to keep them quiet. However, it doesn’t help in the long run. I have learnt to stick to my guns and am able to say ‘no’ with consistency – sometimes with help from my teens. (They can tell when I’m about to be soft and will say, “No mum, no. It’s for her own good”).
3) View the day as a whole
If the kids are expected to sit through a long event or ceremony (weddings etc), I would get them to expand their energy in the morning by taking them to the park for some cycling or free play. Or if we are going to have a hectic day, I will plan it properly so that Kate will have time for a short nap in between. If we have to stay out past her bedtime, I will let her have her nap slightly later that day.
4) Bring a busy bag
I have a drawer in the living room where I dump miscellaneous stickers and freebies accumulated by the older kids & grandparents. When we go out with Kate, I simply grab a few items and throw it in the bag to keep her entertained during times like waiting for food to be served.
5) Acknowledge their feelings
In the past, when our kids cried, we used to say things like, “Ok, that’s enough. Stop crying.” It never works. In fact, the crying usually escalates. Over the years, I have learnt about validating their feelings, and have been using it with Kate. It works! Try it.
When she is emotionally or physically wounded, she will cry and fold her arms. I go close to her, bend down to her level and say something soothing like, “Are you angry?” She would nod her head and say what she is feeling and why. After she is able to express herself, she feels understood, and quietens down very quickly.
6) Have realistic expectations
It is futile to expect all your kids to be able to sit through a 2-hour meal just because the eldest could. Once you know what each child can comfortably tolerate at that particular age, work around that. Look at activities from their perspective. It may be boring, tiring, or too restrictive.
Also be mindful of the environment. Don’t bring toddlers to posh restaurants and expect them not to touch the glassware. Either acknowledge that the days of leisurely window shopping and long relaxing brunches are over, or leave the kids at home with the in-laws while you take a break and enjoy yourself.
Save tip: I prefer to put ‘unwanted’ stuff in Kate’s busy bag so I don’t have to watch her closely and won’t be perturbed if the items get lost or damaged.
Sane tip: I’m glad that none of my kids has ever thrown a fit in public (the lying on the floor and screaming at the top of their lungs type), but at times when they did throw tantrums, I used to raise my voice as well. I have since learnt that shouting at them does not help, and am now able to control myself and speak to them in a low and firm voice.
I do what I have to do quickly and leave the place as soon as possible, without giving in to their demands. We have to show them who’s boss when they are little because as they get older and heavier we can’t tuck them under our arm for a quick escape!
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