5 Proven Tantrum Buster Techniques You Need To Know
Even though parents want the best for their children, they also want to enjoy them. Little ones go through so many wonderful phases and stages, it’s only natural that mums and dads want them all to be a happy time. Especially as they go by so quickly.
That’s why it’s so important that we set boundaries and have some positive discipline tools in our back pockets. Children can lose the run of themselves on occasion – often through no-one’s fault – and it’s up to us adults to manage that in the best way we can.
Dealing with temper tantrums can be challenging, and discipline is often an emotive issue (a little like sleep coaching in many ways). There are so many ideas about the right, or indeed wrong, ways our to help our little ones learn, but these are the things that (mostly - not always!) worked for me when I was a childminder:
1. Learn how to tell the difference between behaviour that is serious and dangerous, and behaviour that is less likely to become an issue. Getting caught up in the small stuff sends out a confused message to your toddler. They will not understand the things that are important to you, and the expectations you have about things that really matter. Ignore behaviour that isn't a big deal to you, so you can save your energy for the more important issues. In short, ignore petty sibling arguments; react to the times when your children are being physical, dangerous or hurting each other.
2. Try something we often use without really thinking about it – selective ignoring. These meltdowns might end rapidly once your toddler sees that you are no longer paying attention to, or trying to negotiate with them. If your toddler is in a safe place where their tantrum won't be bothering innocent bystanders, just let them go for it. It allows them to express their emotions, so however difficult it may seem, don’t get involved. If you are out in public, chances are you will never see the passersby again. Besides, you have enough to be dealing with without worrying what other people are thinking of you.
3. If the tantrums persist, offer your child a few words of support and encouragement, while making sure you don't add fuel to the fire. Toddlers understand verbal directions, and the tone in which they are given a lot more than they are given credit for. In fact, for the most part, they are well aware of what they are doing.
4. Using time-out and the naughty step to discipline a child has really fallen out of favour. While I may often still be tempted to 'threaten' it every so often, I definitely try to avoid it these days. Banishing kids and giving them a sense of being separated isn’t always the right way to approach any tantrums. Often, they're happening for a valid reason (to them) and they need to be able to work it out with your help.
5. Offering older toddlers and young children ultimatums can be a useful technique. For example, "If you don't eat your dinner, you may not watch TV later." Be specific and don’t make empty threats. Even if you might regret making them later – no TV might mean no quiet time for you! Take a deep breath and follow through with your words. Keep in mind, children don't always remember where they left their shoes, but they have a great knack of remembering all of the times you don’t stick to your threats.
Niamh O’Reilly is a sleep coach. She's also a baby and childcare guru, a 'parent nanny' and the answer to many a weary parent's woes. When it comes to baby and child issues, Niamh is your woman. Always on hand to offer a no-nonsense solution, in an accessible way. A regular in the Irish media, (most recently on TV3’s Late Lunch Show as a 'parent nanny') over the next while at HerFamily.ie, Niamh will share some of her experiences, helping you attain that ‘holy grail’ – nights of uninterrupted sleep for all of the family.
Niamh's book, No Fuss Baby & Toddler Sleep, is now available to buy from all good book stores or online from Amazon.co.uk.