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05th Jul 2020

The small 3 changes I made that drastically improved my toddler’s meltdowns

Trine Jensen-Burke

toddlers tantrums

Terrible two’s? Or dealing with a ‘three-nager’ on your hands, mama?

Either way, the toddler years can be a challenge, in many ways.

However, other times I feel they can be for other reasons such as control – after all, toddlers are only starting to learn about life and establishing a sense of self and where they belong in the world. And a lack of routines and consistency, which are also important when talking about young children.

Having lived through the toddler stage twice, I like to think that I have picked up something, and that there are certain tricks and tweaks you can try that will end up making a difference.

And if the result is less

1. Be firm on routines

Routines establish normalcy. They are a way to get things done and they bring a sense of security to life.

Children, like adults too, often fear the unknown – whether it’s the quinoa on their plate – or big life changes like starting big school or getting a new sibling. This is where routines become even more important, as they bring a huge sense of comfort and consistency to a child’s life.

Routines, of course, much like families themselves, can differ. And they will no doubt evolve and change over time, and you will push and move those times and boundaries into whatever suit your family. Right now, as my children are still quite young, our routines centre a lot around bedtimes and bath times. Since my little girl started big school, we also have homework hour in the afternoon during the week, and lately, we have also become pretty serious about our pizza Fridays.

Routines are also great for fostering that family bond, and a sense of safety and belonging. And I also firmly believe that when children know what to expect, it will reduce stress and feelings of uncertainty.


2. Pencil in some quiet time and cuddles

Children – and adults too – sometimes just needs their batteries charged in order to function properly. I often found that this was especially true in the afternoons, when we all arrived home tired, wrung out from creche and work and school. I would come in and immediately get started on dinner, but struggle to get anything done as he kids were hanging off me, whinging and moaning.

However, a wise friend reminded me that we really should remember to charge ourselves like we remember to charge our phones – and that the best way to re-charge children, especially after a long day, is by snuggling and cuddling and holding them close.

And so we started doing just this. The minute we come home in the afternoon, we pile onto the sofa and just snuggle and talk about our days until we feel a little bit more centred and ready for the rest of the afternoon. And it works so amazingly – not just for my children, but also for me. These moments of closeness and cuddles re-charge us all after our busy days, and we all feel so much happier and calmer getting up off the sofa and getting on with dinner and homework and whatever else lay ahead of us that day.

3. Get rid of some toys

Studies have shown that clutter can give us anxiety, and we all know that feeling of having too many things to choose from, and not being able to settle on one. This, I think, is also very much the case when it comes to children and toys – having too many has actually proven to make kids play less, not more.

When I noticed my little boy struggling to get into playtime, and getting frustrated and emotional, I tried giving their room a good clear-out, and removed toys, leaving only the handful of them he really loved behind, and it made a huge difference. Suddenly it was as if he could think more clearly and played more independently, coming up with so many new ways to use his toys, and would entertain himself for far longer stretches than he ever had.