This post is by guest blogger Roopika Sareen Akhtar of GoMommy. Her blog is based on her personal experience as a mother of twins, where she advocates finding the correct balance between parenting and life. She offers insightful advice on pregnancy and parenting, along with curating healthy recipes and genuine reviews. Do follow her blog for interesting articles on parenting. Today’s post gives sound advice on dealing with inevitable toddler tantrums. The terrible two’s and terrifying three’s are par for the course, but as parents, it’s our duty to stay calm through the tantrums. She presents 5 simple strategies that’ll help you do so.
Before you proceed further do check out my guest post on her website, where I get candid about choosing blogging over a successful career as a lawyer!
Picture courtesy: http://www.parents.com
Handling a toddler’s challenging behaviour, be it a tantrum or meltdown, is no small task. It requires a lot of time and patience. At times you might find yourself befuddled, irritated, and sometimes at a battle of wills with these little creatures who have yet to learn the rules and ways of socialisation.
Let’s face it- raising a child is an immensely stressful & challenging task leaving most parents frustrated and exasperated. This statement holds more weight when the case in point is of toddlers.
But when we talk so much about teaching self-regulation to kids, how well are we equipped to do so ourselves?
Ask yourself- do you see yourself losing out in such situations of challenging toddler behaviour where you are on the verge of taking it all out? Do you find it difficult to stay calm? Do you occasionally lose your cool and react in a way that you later regret?
With my experience so far with our twins in their “terrible twos” I have accepted the fact that while parents might have a few tricks to avoid toddler tantrums, it can never be a 100% foolproof way out for any parent. So what do we do in such a case?
Well, why not devise ways to keep your own cool and maintain calm. Surprisingly that works wonders to sail through such a situation (and you really don’t need to worry about those onlookers too- let them roll their eyes and gasp at your suave & smooth attitude while facing a toddler tantrum!).
So, the next step is, how do you learn to stay calm and not react? Well, the same way you learn any new skill….with lots of practice! And with a few simple strategies under your sleeve, you can take charge of the situation and remain calm thereby reassuring the frustrated child.
Picture courtesy: http://www.health.clevelandclinic.org
Here are a few strategies for staying calm when faced with Toddler tantrum
Strategy 1 :Read the “stress” signals sent by your body
Stiffness in shoulders, furrowed eyebrows, lump in the throat, tensed muscles, racing pulse- these are some of the most basic agitation signals that our body releases when one faces a situation of challenging behaviour. Learn to pay attention to these signals, only then you can control your reaction.
Tip- It helps a great deal to practice physical body relaxation. Yoga & meditation are great ways not to just learn about your body but also how to control it.
Strategy 2 : Look at the bigger picture
This might be a tricky one, but works the fastest in keeping you calm when facing challenging toddler behaviour or toddler tantrums. You need to look at the toddler in the right perspective. Isn’t a kid supposed to be like that? Isn’t it correct that kids lack the ability to regulate their emotions? Weren’t you once, on the other side, behaving the same way in some random situation? Sometimes all one needs to do to diffuse oneself is to put things in perspective. No point yelling at them about it, right?.
Strategy 3 : Magic of ‘Mantra’
Sometimes talking to yourself in a clear, gentle, soothing and encouraging way works wonders in keeping you calm. A ‘mantra’ or repetitive phrase is an easy and handy tool when faced with toddler challenging behaviour.
Sharing a few examples (you can of course make your own versions with words that soothe you fast)-
- “This is not an emergency.”
- “Kids need love most when they deserve it least.”
- “He’s acting out because he needs my help with his big feelings.”
- “This isn’t about me, this is a child who needs my help.”
Tip: Don’t worry if you say the mantra loud. Besides that being good role-modelling for children, it acts like a distractor for the toddler throwing tantrums too! Don’t believe me? Try it!
Strategy 4: Pause & Breathe
As basic as it may sound, taking a deep breath is an excellent strategy to maintain your calm in situations of such challenging behaviour. That deep breath is your pause button. It gives you a choice. Do you really want to get hijacked by your natural instant emotions? Is this really an emergency to act out? You can utilise those few seconds to shake the tension out of your hands. Or laugh out loud. Or simply make a noise by humming. Even forcing yourself to smile sends a message to your nervous system that there’s no emergency, and begins calming you down.
Strategy 5: Timeout
Since you’re human, you’ll sometimes find yourself in a fight or flight mode, especially when none of the above mentioned strategies are doing the trick to keep you calm. In such case, give yourself a timeout and come back when you’re able to be calm. Move away from the child physically so your anger doesn’t overpower your mind. Splash water on your face, wash your hands and do some breathing to release the negative emotions swirling in your mind.
Tip: Exiting also impresses on the child the gravity of the situation and it models self-control.
Staying calm with children can be extraordinarily difficult at times. As parents we strive hard to be mindful and reasonable in our approach, but there is that one moment of distraction when it’s very easy to find yourself being triggered and unable to stop. It’s important to regulate your own emotions at that time and be a role model for the children. You would soon feel the anger melt away and find yourself better equipped to handle a toddler showing challenging behaviour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Roopika Sareen describes herself as a caring daughter, a cool wife, a super cool mom-of-twins, a banking professional and most of all, a simple girl-next-door! She is interested in exploring and bridging the gap between the notion of the ‘Ideal Worker’ and the ‘Ideal Mother’ and advocating for positive changes in our community, culture & parenting style. When she has time to herself she likes to use those 15 seconds of freedom to take a sip of coffee. She shares her experiences and learnings through her blog ‘Go Mommy’.
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