The 'Terrible Two's' is a term we often hear and it is one I heard a lot before my toddler turned two and I was warned by fellow mums that she will go through a phase (Yes, I said phase, I know it's the furthest thing from a phase! But that's what I was told) a phase where she will cry for everything and anything that she wanted and will throw herself on the floor and scream murder if she didn't get it. I was told that there was nothing I can do about it and I should just try and not go out during this 'phase' and try and avoid people altogether.
As a mum, I wanted to believe that my daughter was different from all the other kids in the world, that she would never have a temper tantrum because I simply won't allow it. Ha! I could not have been more wrong! Sure enough, a month before she turned two she had her first temper tantrum, followed by a second, third, and a millionth one by now. However, the advice I was given was absolutely ridiculous - although at the time it certainly felt like there was nothing I could do, there is actually a lot I could do to prevent and survive a tantrum (even a public one!)
Below are some tips that I've learnt during these 'phases':
AVOID THE TANTRUM
Now, this is way easier said than done, but it's a gradual process and if mastered, can result in less tantrums and a lot more happy faces from mummy and child. The trick is to prevent your child from getting cranky in the first place which ultimately leads to a tantrum.
Let's look at some reasons why toddlers get cranky (some of these may relate to us mums too!)
- Hunger - Always pack snacks, if you think you've packed enough, you haven't! Pack more! By ensuring your child has had enough snacks to occupy themselves with and keep their stomachs full you avoid one of the biggest triggers of a tantrum
- Tired or sleepy child - Try your best to time your outings in according to your child's nap time. Even adults get cranky if they haven't had enough sleep (I know I do!) and for a child, it's worse.
- Boredom - If your toddler has a tantrum at a museum or Doctor's waiting room and you haven't provided entertainment for them then Momma this one's on you! Kids get bored, and they get bored very quickly. But! And this is a big But! It's incredibly easy to keep them occupied if you have the right mindset and some imagination a piece of paper can be entertainment if you turn it into an Origami rocket or frog! Or pack a pencil and watch your child draw people with big heads and little arms. Always pack something fun for them to do while you run your errands. That way they won't even have time to look around and find that thing they want but can't have.
- Change in plans - A lot of mums make this mistake and I did too before I realised the impact it had on her mood, ALWAYS WARN YOUR CHILD BEFORE YOU MAKE A MOVE!
"Honey, We're leaving the playground in 15 min"
"Honey you've got 10 min left"
"Start packing your stuff you've got 5 min left"
This way your child knows what's coming and won't make such a big fuss when you do leave.
- PRAISE! PRAISE! PRAISE! - Praise your child when they are behaving well or simply being normal and not having a tantrum, praise them for eating, playing, singing. Whatever it is they are doing, tell them you appreciate it when they are been good. They need to feel that they can get your attention without acting out or being naughty.
SURVIVING THE TANTRUM
This is the tricky bit - you've taken all the measures mentioned above yet your child still decided to cling on to that Peppa Pig ride at the supermarket with claws made of steel and you can't seem to get them to let go.
- STAY CALM - The first thing you have to remember is to remain calm as hard as it may be this is crucial in ending this tantrum peacefully and quickly. Getting angry or losing it won't help the situation at all and your child can sense tension and will act in reflection to that. If you remain calm, they will too. If you get angry, they will too.
- Get down to their eye level - There is nothing more frightening to a child than an angry adult - a giant in their eyes - with a booming voice and fiery eyes wide open giving them the death glare! You need to get down on their level so as not to intimidate them. (This trick is actually seen frequently between Prince William and his son Prince George if you look back at the photos captured between the adorable duo).
- Speak SLOWLY, FIRMLY, QUIETLY - You must remember these three. Speak slowly so your child can understand what you are saying, don't use too many words, summarise what you need them to do. Speak firmly and stop with the loving tone, instead use a strict firm tone without being scary or intimidating, simply show your child you mean business and this isn't acceptable. Lastly speak quietly, if your child is screaming at the top of their lungs and you get down to their eye level and speak quietly, naturally they will quiten down to hear what you say. They might not at first but they soon will and by speaking quietly you are also stopping yourself from losing it.
- Distraction - Once your child has quitened down, even for a bit, time to create a diversion! Distract your child with whatever you can find, use your imagination, sing a song, play a game and use a lot of praise when they do get over the tantrum.
Good luck Momma! Leave a comment below! Do you have any other tips? What works or doesn't work for you?