Mummy Mondays – The 5 Ways I’m Going to Handle My Toddlers Tantrums

Toddler Tantrums. I was hoping they wouldn’t happen until Elliott was two, but that just shows you how much I didn’t know about toddlers. Hitting, screaming, kicking, food throwing, pulling off a dirty nappy, banging doors, multiple times a day…it’s driving me bonkers and it’s been REALLY hard to keep my temper.

It was suggested to me that I start using the ‘naughty corner’ method, but I just had to laugh. I know this would work for some toddlers, but I just couldn’t imagine it working for Elliott. Not only would he not really understand , he is such a determined little thing and wouldn’t stay there for a second. But on the other hand, putting him in his cot may work as an alternative.

As much as Elliott’s tantrums are tiring and hard to deal with, I have been trying to put myself in his shoes. I know there are experts that would probably say not to do this, but I’m his mum and so I will.  I try to imagine what it must be like,  to be able to understand exactly what people are saying but to only know 5 words and not being able to communicate by any other way than pointing, crying, smiling or frowning. If that were me, I would be throwing a tantrum too! So, I hope that I’m right and that when he is able to communicate with us a little better, the tantrums will happen on a lesser scale. Am I hoping for too much?

So, here’s my plan to deal with the tantrums better with the aim to make life a little easier for Elliott, Myself & Mr. G.

  1. I’m going to start taking note of what triggers Elliott’s tantrums. Is it when he’s tired, when he’s hungry or when he’s in the car for too long, after a long shopping trip? If I can pin point this, I might be able to ‘try’ to avoid the situations.
  2. I’m going to take the time to really look closer at his body language and take notice of what he might be indicating he wants and then give him the words to use when he doesn’t quite know. For example, if he looks as though he wants to get up in his highchair, I’ll say “up” or “help Mummy”. Hopefully in time he will learn to use these words. 
  3. I’m going to give the ‘naughty corner’ theory a shot but using the cot and more so focusing on it being a ‘chill out’ or ‘time out’ corner. It’s somewhere that he finds comforting and so hopefully it will make things a little easier. He’s still at the age where he doesn’t know right from wrong so this may be a good alternative to calm down a bit.
  4. I tend to cave in too easily sometimes just so the tantrum can be over, but silly me didn’t realise that he will continue to throw tantrums because he knows if he does this he’ll get what he wants! I have to persist and use words such as ‘Later’ or ‘After Breakfast’.  
  5. I often forget to just walk away,  breathe deeply and remind myself to keep calm. This will really help the way I deal with the tantrum and lessen the chance of me snapping. Of course making sure that Elliott is OK before take some time to regroup is important.

I know there are so many other things I could focus on but I think focusing on 5 for the moment is achievable, easy to remember and work with. Wish me luck!

How did/do you deal with your toddlers tantrums?

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Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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23 Comments

  1. September 8, 2013 / 10:10 am

    With two toddlers here we deal with tantrums often! I have found that during these times I need to stay present with whichever one it is, still allowing her the time and space to vent her emotions (eg. anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness etc) but letting her know that I am there to help and support her even when she is at her lowest point. This morning my 18 month old threw herself on floor screaming when I put her pants on for her. She had wanted to do it herself and had tried for quite sometime but just couldn’t. I reached out to touch her whilst she was in the throws of her tantrum and she swiped my hand away and screamed louder. I said ‘that’s ok, you don’t want me to touch you’ and then I sat beside her and waited. After a couple of minutes, she calmed down, picked herself off the floor and buried herself into me for the longest cuddle. I think she appreciated that I stayed with her whist she dealt with some big emotion that was just as scary for her as it was for me. As awful as tantrums are, I actually now appreciate the opportunity for close bonding that occurs through each one.

    • September 8, 2013 / 11:50 am

      I find there are times when getting close to Elliott and consoling him is the best thing to do, but other times it isn’t. For me I think it really depends on why he’s throwing the tantrum, it’s usually easy to tell the difference between him trying to get his own way if he doesn’t like our answer or a tantrum where he’s obviously under some emotional stress that is frustrating him. Those emotional ones tend to go on longer and are more intense and definitely require comforting. It’s the ones where he doesn’t get what he wants that I need to deal with better.

  2. September 8, 2013 / 12:39 pm

    It’s really hard. I used to do what I could to prevent tantrums (making sure she’s not over hungry, over tired, etc) but also allow her to have them too. I’d say things like, “it’s ok, you can have a tantrum if you need to. Just let me help you to lie down so you don’t bump your head”. And I’d validate her feelings “you’re feeling upset because you want to eat xyz and Mummy said you can’t and that makes you feel sad.” etc. Good luck.

    • September 11, 2013 / 12:56 am

      It is really hard and I’ve actually started to try saying things like you did. I’m not sure if he’s understanding it but I’ll keep trying.

  3. September 8, 2013 / 1:27 pm

    Ohh those tantrums are so hard and exhausting. I found it helpful to understand that at this stage of development children are establishing their own sense of self. Tantrums are a way for them to do that. Here’s an article that talks about that and gives some helpful tips. http://www.parenting.com/article/5-tantrum-stoppers-that-work
    I must confess that I used bribery as a way to forestall tantrums. It was a very effective strategy with my youngest who was very strong willed.

  4. September 9, 2013 / 12:13 am

    Ah, toddler tantrums. I escaped them with my daughter. Something tells me I won’t be so lucky with baby Ike.

  5. September 9, 2013 / 8:17 am

    I think paying attention to learn why/when the tantrums come on, and responding to that is a great approach. My daughter has started to occasionally get quite worked up, and it seems to be when she wants something/to do something and can’t or can’t tell me what it is. So for me it is about paying attention to her behavior and seeing if I can help her do whatever she is trying to do (if it is ok to be done!).

    • September 11, 2013 / 12:58 am

      Yes, definitely paying attention to behaviour and cues is a priority for me because if I can pick it up, I think it’ll be easier for me to understand and deal with it.

  6. September 9, 2013 / 9:48 am

    I take each one as it comes. Usually tiredness is the main cause with my 2 year old as he is such a happy boy most of the time. His brother caused me more issues and can still crack a tantrum at 4 years old!!

    • September 11, 2013 / 12:59 am

      Definitely tiredness is one of the main factors, but I think another one for my son is that he may potentially have a hearing problem that we need to get checked out, this I think would be causing some frustrations. Only found out the other day so another challenge to face.

  7. September 9, 2013 / 10:14 am

    I love your ways to approach tantrums. I cave too easily and really need something more consistent. Thanks for the food for thought.

    • September 11, 2013 / 12:59 am

      Thanks Kaz but I’m definitely not perfect. It wasn’t until recently that I stopped to think I needed to change my approach because I too was caving in and it just wasn’t working!

  8. September 9, 2013 / 10:32 pm

    I was lucky with my first who was an early speaker and his nature simply wasn’t to tantrum. My daughter, however, is 17 months old, much less vocal than my son was at this age and is a BIG tantrumer. From as young as 9 months old she has struggled with expressing herself and it can be so testing!

    This is a great post, you’re doing a great job by thinking about this in advance and having respectful ways to try to deal with it.

    • September 11, 2013 / 1:01 am

      Thanks Rachel. It was just this week that our Pediatrician referred my son to an Ear Nose & Throat specialist and to get a hearing test done. He’s been sick the past 3 months with ear issues and there could be a problem with his hearing causing him to be delayed in his speech. I’m pretty sure this would be the source of many of his tantrums due to frustration.

  9. September 11, 2013 / 9:44 am

    Great tips Eva, very timely for us too! We’re introducing a naughty corner as of tomorrow. Good luck with Elliott’s appointments.

  10. September 13, 2013 / 12:04 pm

    I am in twin toddler tantrum hell at the moment so I feel your pain and I thought your list was great and made me think about a few ways I could approach them differently…thank you for the inspiration and good luck xx

  11. September 15, 2013 / 11:44 pm

    How I react is pretty different at home and in public. Often at home I will just ignore them (if I know the reason why etc) and just walk away, showing him that these types of actions don’t get the reaction he wants. In public I can’t just walk off so I tend to try and do a lot of redirection and trying to get his attention focussed on something else. I think, like you’ve said, it’s important to try and be more aware of the triggers and trying to avoid those or be more aware of them would really help.

  12. September 16, 2013 / 12:50 am

    I love that you’re focusing on what you’re GOING to do…the toddler years are now past for me, and I’m facing a entire new set of challenges, but the principles of being proactive rather than reactive ring true.

  13. September 17, 2013 / 11:36 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. September 17, 2013 / 11:38 am

    The fact that you have a well thought out proactive plan is sure to make life easier. It also means you will have a consistent approach. Your approach reminds me of the saying that says: “Fortune favours the prepared mind” and this is so true when it comes to dealing with tantrums. If you have some strategies up your sleeve, you are able to action them and avert, or quickly resolve the tantrum. Elise @ Creative Play Central