In my last blog post, I shared the developmental reasoning behind tantrums in toddlers ages two to four. Today, I'd like to share some tips for creating environments that can help prevent toddler tantrums from happening as much as possible.
Preventing Toddler Tantrums
To prevent temper tantrums before they begin, remember to:
1. Reward positive behavior and do not reward negative behavior.
2. Choose your battles wisely. If you come down hard on your child and over-control him for everything, he may ultimately break out over something small and lose control.
3. Parents are entitled to parent. That means that when you want your child to perform a particular action for you, state it as a declarative sentence, not as a question. For example, don't say: "Do you want to go to sleep?" Say instead: "It's bedtime."
4. If a temper tantrum is about to start, shift the field through distraction and by changing the environment. If it's a young child, just pick him up and take him somewhere else.
5. Sleep is so important to our emotions; therefore, a tired, cranky child is more likely to have a temper tantrum than a well-rested child.
6. Structure and routine are great ways to diffuse temper tantrums, because your child feels secure when he is in a contained environment and knows what's expected of him.
7. Add some humor, don't overreact, or take things to heart.
8. Prepare your child for change. Your child is no different than anyone else, and he is especially vulnerable to transitions because of his immaturity. Thus, if there is something he has to end or begin, give him a little notice, and a little time, before you either remove him or insert him into a new activity.
9. Keep your promises and don't make promises you can't keep. Your child thinks concretely, and therefore more emotionally, so if you break your word, you can break his heart.
10. And finally, remember to give your child freedom within limits. Structure the choices that you can live with by presenting your child with these choices and then letting him choose from one of those.
So let's say you have consciously done all you could from the above list to prevent a tantrum - and your child still breaks down. It happens. Know that we moms and dads have most likely all been in your shoes at one time or another. In my next blog post, I'll share some tips for how to handle toddler tantrums at different stages.