And there are some days – and even some whole weeks – when I cannot believe I can be getting it sooo wrong!
I have been trying to work out whether there is any magic ingredient to what I do right when everything is sweetness and light and what I do wrong when World War III is raging in the sitting room.
Sometimes it’s just bad luck – us both being under the weather, teeth, not enough sleep, mummy trying to do too much and failing dramatically.
Sometimes I definitely just need to sit down and think about what I’m doing wrong and really read around for advice. Other times I just need simple reminders or extra ideas of how to get through the week and this list is my quick grab crib sheet of ideas that I’ve begged and borrowed from friends with much more expertise than me in the matter!
Tips for Handling Tantrums
- Try to keep to clear routines
- Give fair warning that we’re about to change what we’re doing
- Don’t drag out tantrum trigger points – e.g. hair wash – get it over with
- Watch out for blood sugar levels – yours as well as there’s!
- Make sure they’re not thirsty
- Watch out for them getting tired
- Spend at least 15 minutes with them in quiet time every day
- Make sure get a chance to run around – outside ideally – every day
- Don’t try to win every battle
- Work out which battles you won’t give on e.g. basic cleanliness, manners, bed time
- Keep dull stuff – e.g. getting dressed – brief but don’t hurry-scurry them
- Ignore minor tantrums avoiding eye contact
- Practice keeping calm – counting to 10, deep breathing, personal “time out”
- Set an example by not being grumpy, irritable, shouty
- Avoid saying NO to everything
- Offer an explanation of why you’re saying no
- Acknowledge their feelings – “You feel cross. Mummy feels cross sometimes.”
- Acknowledge your own feelings – “I feel tired.” “It makes me sad”
- Talk about feelings – theirs and yours
- Repeat back what they say to you so they feel listened to
- Pile on the praise but keep it genuine
- Listen out for real concerns – e.g. unhappiness in child care
- Explain what you can and can’t change
- Don’t assume they feel the same as you – e.g. may not be hot, tired, thirsty if you are
- Distract them from tantrum with something funny – potty humour always a hit!
- Let them know if their behaviour hurts
- Accept that tantrums are normal
- Give lots of short bursts of quality time
- Don’t give into demands during tantrums
- Avoid eye contact during a tantrum
- Keep them safe – if in danger wrap in arms however much they flail
- Help them see “time out” as a safe space to calm down rather than punishment
- Just get outside – sometimes just bundling them out to the garden or park will help
- Make up after it’s all over