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18th Feb 2020

Positive parenting: Kirsten Bell’s advice for handling tantrums makes a lot of sense

Kirsten Bell

One of the most important lessons about parenting, I think is the fact that we can all learn so much from each other.

Seriously – draw from your resources, that’s what I say. Because when it comes to parenting, nobody is an expert. As in – nobody. Not even the people who write books and blogs and column inches about the topic and go as far as calling themselves experts. Parenting is a tough and ever-challenging game, and the truth is, we are ALL just learning.

Trying and failing and trying again, finding what works for our children and our families, and getting better at canceeling out the ever-present noise of all the “experts” and their so-called great advice.

That said – I do think we need to get far better at asking for tips – because while you might have the napping and bedtime routine somewhat figured out, some other mum might be struggling, and being able to share from your experience might just end up helping her. And it swings the other way too. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips or advice when you see other parents who seem to ace certain bits of parenting.

I recently came across an article on how celebrity parents Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard handle their girls’ toddler tantrums, and I was really inspired. Their method, which they spoke to Us Weekly about, is one we could all learn from, I think.

Their method? Be responsive, not reactive. And tag team with your partner or co-parent for all it’s worth.

In an interview with Us Weekly, Bell explained: “We tag team. We switch kids all the time. If I am talking to the two-and-a-half-year-old and I’m done, I’ll just be like, ‘We’ve got to switch. I don’t want to talk to this kid anymore.’

It’s not about perfection, but it is about being thoughtful and not reactive. So in order to not be reactive, we switch kids a lot.”


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This is a picture of both the floor of my house and the interior of my brain. #momlife

A post shared by kristen bell (@kristenanniebell) on

How clever is that?

The idea that rather than both parents facing toddler tantrums together (or, God forbid, on our own) it could be more helpful to divide into teams and look after the kids.

As parents, it is important and better to take a break from a child who is pushing your limits instead of suffering a meltdown.

Kristen further shares: “It feels awful when your kids ruin your house. It feels really, really awful. In those moments I go, ‘Am I going to like myself more after calming, cleaning this up and making them help me? Or am I going to like myself more after I blow at them because they dumped — or accidentally dumped — a big bucket of beads? Which outcome am I going to be happier with?’”

The best approach, then, according to Bell, in dealing with tantrums is to respond to your child instead of reacting, and I think there are so many lessons to be learnt here.

I know, as I am sure you do too, that often, when the kids push your buttons, how you deal with this has a whole lot more to do with how you are feeling than what they are doing.

As in; if you are having a crap day (and God knows we all have those), you are far more likely to snap at your kids if they do something that annoys you. However, if you are feeling all zen and lovely and the house is tidy and the world is good, well, then chances are you are going to react differently – as in, be more the parent you strive to be. True? I know this is true for me.

And hence Bell and Shepard’s method is so genius, I think, allowing the parent dealing with the child in questions to step away from the situation and have time to breathe deeply and calm down, hence limiting the chance you of getting angry and handling the situation in a way you’ll regret or wish to do differently later.

(Feature image via Kristen Bell/Instagram)