We have two toddlers in my house nowadays. It is fun and exciting watching them grow, but quite a pain at times as well. For those of you with toddlers, or for those that went through this phase, you deserve an award. Boy, is it hard some days! Here are some tips for managing two-year-old tantrums, three-year-old tantrums, four-year-old tantrums... well, you get the point!
1. Maintain an organized, predictable schedule for your toddler. Remember, many toddlers will have tantrums when they are hungry or tired. If your child can predict when he or she will eat and sleep, this may minimize the tantrum.
2. Make sure your child is getting a lot of 'good attention'. Try to catch him or her doing something good, and reward for this. If you only pay attention to the negative behaviour, the child may act out or tantrum to get any attention at all, even if negative.
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3. Try to give your child control over some things. Offering choices like, "do you want to wear this shirt or this one?" can be helpful in providing him or her with a sense of control.
4. If an object if off limits, hide it and keep it out of reach. Temptation with an inevitable "no" is dangerous.
5. When in doubt -- distract. Toddlers have short attention spans, if frustration is looming simply change the subject, take to a new environment or discuss something that your child is excited about. My personal favorite -- at the park before bed my son wants to keep playing. I distract as I move him away from the park with, "what book do you want to read tonight?" This works every time!
6. Consider the request carefully when your child wants something. Is it reasonable? If so, consider the request for a moment before saying no. You have to pick your battles.
7. Know your child's limits. If you know your toddler is tired, it may be best to go home for a nap rather than try to squeeze in one more errand.
8. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Many parents regularly tell their children 'no', or 'stop', and the child continues to disobey. If there is no parental follow through or consequences the child will not listen. If you say 'no', mean it and follow through, no matter how little patience you have and how many balls you are juggling. It will pay off in the short and long term. Similarly. if you say 'no' to your child, he has a tantrum and you then give in and say 'yes', what have you taught him? It's easy to see how this will lead to more tantrums next time the 'no' word is uttered.
For more on tantrums check out this post.
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