Taming Tantrums Under Two
Things have gotten significantly more difficult now that my child can do more than just eat and sleep. She’s super active and is developing her own personality. She knows what she likes and her face lights up when she plays with a preferred object. She also knows what she doesn’t like and isn’t afraid to let you know.
Many parents are taken by surprise when their tiny human starts to throw tantrums or fits – especially when he or she is under a year old. While it’s amazing a child that young can understand the word “no,” it’s also very frustrating because you just can’t reason with them. This can leave parents at a loss for what to do. If you’re a parent or caregiver and find yourself in this situation, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out how to help get your child’s tantrums under control.
Be an active, positive parent.
Make sure you are interacting with your child on a regular basis. Talk to them and praise them for positive behaviors (even if they don’t have the vocabulary to understand what you’re saying). Use a happy tone and smile at them. Give them hugs and kisses. Show affection as often as you can. Play with them. Just genuinely enjoy your child.
This may seem like a no-brainer but it is just SO hard to practice mindful parenting sometimes. The more positive interactions you have with your child, the easier it’ll be for him or her to tell whether or not you approve of a behavior. It also keeps your child from only getting attention for misbehaviors. If you are checked out all the time and only engage with your child when they are being “bad” then you are inadvertently reinforcing those behaviors.
Make sure your child is safe.
If your child throws a tantrum and is on a hard wood floor, move them to a carpet or somewhere where they can safely calm down. Some children will throw themselves back and accidentally hit their heads or may purposefully bang their heads out of frustration. Make sure your child’s head is protected at all costs.
Ignore, ignore, ignore.
If your child is having tantrums or meltdowns on a regular basis and you are an active, positive parent then ignoring the tantrum is the way to go. Now, when I say ignore, I mean completely ignore. Don’t make eye contact with your child while they are throwing a tantrum, keep a neutral facial expression, stay quiet and calm (as long as your child is being safe). As soon as your child calms down, approach them and specifically praise them for being able to calm down (i.e. “You did a great job calming down!”)
Ignoring helps your child realize that they need to behave in order to get your attention. If you attend to a tantrum (even if you are yelling) you are inadvertently reinforcing that behavior. All attention – positive or negative – is still attention.
Help them work through it.
Some children might need help to calm down depending on the situation. If your child is throwing a fit because they are tired or hurt, they will likely need your help. If this is the case, then cuddle your child, sing them a song, rub their back, etc. If your child is throwing a fit because you told them “no” or tried to redirect them then ignoring is the way to go.
Also, keep in mind that some children may not want to be touched when they are mad or upset. My daughter will grab my hand and push it away when I try to soothe her by rubbing her head or back. I have come to realize that she just needs time to regulate her emotions on her own.
Stay away from physical discipline.
This means no spanking, no swatting, pinching, kicking, etc. Physical discipline can cause fear, trauma, and aggression. Remember, you want your child to respect you – not fear you. Hitting your child also teaches them that it’s okay to hit. Right now your child is a little sponge. They imitate what they see. If you don’t want them doing it to you – don’t do it to them.
Furthermore, a large body of research shows that spanking and other forms of physical discipline don’t actually decrease problem behaviors. What it does do is interfere with the warmth in your relationship. Why resort to physical discipline when there are so many other ways to achieve the results you want?
Do you have a child that is engaging in tantruming behaviors and would like help getting the problem under control? If so, check out Parent Coaching Services with Leanne Pilgrim. Click here to schedule your FREE consultation!