Cooperation Begins with Trust

Category Archives: Toddlers 12- 36 months

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Positive Parenting: What Really Helps Children During Tantrums

Positive Parenting: What Really Helps Children During Tantrums

Children have tantrums. It’s practically inevitable. Even if you set out to parent in a kind and connected way, tantrums can happen. They happen because tantrums are a sign of emotional overload. Tantrums are a request for loving guidance.

Tantrums are emotional outbursts.

During a tantrum a child may meltdown, cry and scream. Sometimes children also hit, kick, bite and bang things during a tantrum.  Tantrums happen when children are overwhelmed. Overwhelm can come from being scared, frustrated, tired, hungry, confused and uncomfortable.

Children of all ages can have tantrums, but toddlers in particular are more likely to have tantrums. This happens because the toddler brain is still very immature and impulsive. It is not a sign that they are naughty, bad or spoiled.

Tantrums don’t have to rule the early years and can be an opportunity for parents to offer unconditional love and guidance.

What really helps children when they are having a tantrum?

1. Less is more: 

A lot of children get so worked up when they are in pain or frustrated and we forget that they really can’t tune in to what we are saying.  It’s hard to cry, protest all while trying to absorb a teachable moment.tantrums positive parenting tips

 Don’t worry about teaching during a tantrum. Say less. Listen more. Be present. 

One morning  leaving toddler playgroup, my daughter wanted to bring home a Minnie mouse toy. It didn’t belong to her. Being just two years old at the time, that was just so incomprehensible to her. While I validated and acknowledged how wonderful the toy was, I also made it clear that the toy had to stay at playgroup.  My daughter cried for about a minute. Then she whimpered a bit more. I offered her a smile mixed with empathy and open arms. She climbed into my lap and three minutes or so after the tantrum was done.  All I had to do was listen. Then, she placed the toy on the shelf and we left hand in hand.

2. Make Peace with Tears 

Tears are not the enemy or a sign of parental failure. It is a normal, physiological and emotional reaction for a young child to cry and express unhappiness.  A lot of parenting advice talks about “how to stop tantrums” and to “ignore” tantrums.  Letting your child feel her feelings and cry when they feel overwhelmed is so vital to their long term well-being.

If you find it hard to listen to your child’s tears, Aletha-Solter offers an important explanation:

It is difficult to allow children the freedom of tears because most of us were stopped from crying when we were young. Our well-meaning, but misinformed, parents may have distracted, scolded, punished, or ignored us when we attempted to heal our childhood hurts by crying.

The sooner we make peace with the idea that our child may at times have a tantrum, the easier it becomes to respond in a kind, calm and connected way. It also teaches children that they can get upset and then move forward. 

3. Listening to a Tantrum is not the same as giving in:

You can listen to a tantrum and validate feelings and still keep your limit.

The safer a child feels the sooner their tantrum is likely to subside. A calm, confident presence gives your child a sense that they are OK, even if they didn’t get their way.

Listening and validating also gives your child words to fill up their emotional vocabulary, which is vital to developing emotional intelligence and self-regulation skills.

4. Make corrections in a connected and calm way:

I will not let you kick me.” Is enough to make it clear that the tears can go on, but that hurting you is not acceptable.  Lecturing on and on as the child cries and tried to hurt you will only escalate the tantrum.

Another calm correction is to carry or accompany your child out of a public area into a more private space. It might sound like:  “Let’s find a better place to be right now. Follow me.” Or simply walking away together. 

5. Stop Negotiations and Redirection

It may be tempting to redirect or bribe your child to stop tears. Under most circumstances, it’s best to avoid that.  Strive to accept your child’s feelings. Next, show faith in both your child and the limit that you have set. If you don’t believe in that limit, then your child has no reason to respect it either.

Keeping clear limits isn’t the same as being rigid or inflexible. It’s about being calm and confident in your guidance.

When we negotiate endlessly, you send mix messages. “No you can’t…oh wait…yes you can…I don’t know…”

tantrum help positive parenting

Distractions negate your child’s real feelings. Listening to tears and offering guidance helps your child learn to manage feelings.

6. Coach, Connect and Then Correct

Your child will need you to coach them through big feelings before they are ready to listen to your corrections and limits.

The ability to calm down, instead of melting down (i.e. self regulation skills) develops gradually. It will take many trials and errors.

Children also learn a lot from observing their trusted adults self-regulate too.  It’s ok if you need to walk away for a moment and calm yourself down as well.

Strive to keep appropriate expectations, meet your child’s needs and to use a connected approach to discipline. This way your child will continue to trust and seek out your guidance.

Get more on the essentials of emotion coaching and other positive tools for raising happy and healthy children, by joining the positive parenting classroom today.

discipline for toddlers

Peace & Be Well,

Ariadne

How To Transform Criticism And Bring Out the Best in Your Child

How To Transform Criticism And Bring Out the Best in Your Child

The best praise is focused on your child’s effort, not your child’s traits. The same is true of criticism. In one study by Columbia University researchers, kindergarteners were given a scenario: a teacher asks them to create a house out of Legos, and they forget to put in windows. Then the teacher and child role-play… Continue Reading

Discipline When Young Children Become Aggressive

Discipline When Young Children Become Aggressive

 Aggressive toddlers and preschoolers need your guidance when they act in aggressive and other unhelpful ways. It’s quite normal for toddlers and preschoolers to struggle with aggression. When your child acts aggressively it is typically a sign that she is feeling upset, scared or overwhelmed. Aggression can also be a sign that your child has… Continue Reading

Why Timeouts Make Tantrums And Power Struggles Worse (And What To Do Instead)

Why Timeouts Make Tantrums And Power Struggles Worse (And What To Do Instead)

A parent wrote in recently asking why timeouts are making her daughters behavior worse instead of better. She shares: I have a 3 year old daughter that throws the biggest tantrums whenever i simply say no or disagree with her. She has picked up negative behaviors to calm herself. Such as slamming doors and using aggression.… Continue Reading

Understand Why Siblings Fight and Help Them Start Getting Along

Understand Why Siblings Fight and Help Them Start Getting Along

Inside:  Understand why siblings fight with each other and for attention and learn sibling conflict reduction parenting tools. “You are being mean!” said my son. His face filled with disappointment. “I’m never sharing my truck with you ever again.” He added, walking away with a deep sigh. I had been listening to my son and… Continue Reading

The Most Powerful And Punishment Free Way To Better Behavior

The Most Powerful And Punishment Free Way To Better Behavior

Discipline that teaches your child’s heart and mind at the same time. When my son was four years old, he was sweet, funny and quite mischievous. Just a moment unsupervised and something was likely to get opened, spilled or broken. Most days my son was content to play with his toys, in the garden or… Continue Reading

What To Do When Consequences Don’t Work

What To Do When Consequences Don’t Work

Three Parenting Strategies To Try when Consequences Stop Working and your Child is Misbehaving Does this scenario feel familiar? It’s getting close to the end of the day, and you are expecting your child to clean up toys, wash up, help set the table, get ready for bed and go to sleep. Only problem is,… Continue Reading

Essentials for Parenting Stubborn and Determined Children

Essentials for Parenting Stubborn and Determined Children

Positive parenting is not about keeping our children happy 100% of the time or giving in to every demand or bending the earth to suit our child’s desires. However, it is important that we pay attention and strike a balance between the needs of the child, the family and our own. When everyone’s needs and feelings are being considered, and cooperation and communication are the focus instead of commands, demands and high expectation, parents and children can really find wonderful harmony. Continue Reading

How To Stop Toddler Defiance with Positive Guidance

How To Stop Toddler Defiance with Positive Guidance

Defiant toddlers are often mislabeled as having a behavior problem.  In most cases, toddler defiance is actually just a sign of healthy development. Toddlers that like to say NO and “put their foot down” are not only developing well, they are actively exploring their emotional intelligence. Positive guidance can help toddlers grow well and thrive.  Mauren Healy, author… Continue Reading

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