A typical family dinner was happening. My daughter was eating her tortilla and laughing. She said “All done,” and I started taking her out of her booster seat. Then it was “more juice!” and as I said “Ok” and buckled her back in, it was a wail of “Noooo!”
Enter tantrum mode. A tantrum usually comes up at THE most inconvenient times. The reason for this is that despite their rough and tumble, adorable exterior, toddlers are sensitive little guys. Your toddler is most likely either extremely tired, hungry or overstimulated. Shaming, bribing or trying to console your toddler will most certainly make the already unbearable situation more aggravated. Though there is no quick magic trick to stop a tantrum, understanding where your little one is coming from is the best way to start to get past the initial panic.
The best way to avoid tantrums all together (most of the time!) is by covering all your bases. Have a consistent naptime, and make sure they get ample rest (oftentimes this is 14 hours of rest each 24 hour period). Make sure you have mealtimes, and offer a variety of nutritious options. A good rule of thumb is a grain, fruit or vegetable for breakfast, a grain and two different fruit/vegetables at lunch and dinner with milk or non-dairy option at each meal, plus access to water throughout the day. I’m amazed by the over-packed, overcrowded, noisy situations that many parents put their child in throughout the day. Malls, theme parks, fairs and other events like these easily become a loud, chaotic nightmare for toddlers and babies. Remember that their brains are still developing! Try to avoid these things at all costs, and limit your child’s time in these types of situations as much as possible. A good rule of thumb is it’s best to leave BEFORE you start to see signs of tiredness or discomfort. Remember, toddlers thrive on consistent routines and calm, familiar environments.
But once the tantrum strikes, your first job is to recognize the situation and keep calm, knowing that your little one isn’t being bad or naughty, but they have distress that is too much for them to handle. It’s best to remove them from the situation/bring them to the situation they need (bed, food, calm), all the while acknowledging their big feelings. Be the calm water to their tidal wave. Mostly they just want to express themselves, and they want you to respect, love and care for them without judgment, but with patience, kindness and understanding.