Susannah stops by today with her experience as a mom of a two-year-old. Here are her tips for dealing with toddler tantrums – to benefit both your child and you! Let’s give Susannah the stage here.
Terrible twos. Tantrums. Toddler years. Emotions.
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably gotten plenty of advice about how to deal with tantrums. If you’re not a parent, you’ve probably still heard all sorts of stories about the terrible twos, or threes or maybe even twenty-threes.
The fact of it is, we all have emotions and each one of us deals with feelings in our own unique ways. Young children generally do less internal processing of emotion than adults before airing their feelings to the world. In other words, babies, toddlers, and young kids often just explode.
The expression of negative emotion can sometimes (or maybe often!) come in the form of tantrums: tears, stomping feet, kicking, yelling, hitting… Yeah, you get the idea.
Toddler Tantrums: Up Close and Personal
Recently we’ve been navigating lots of negative emotion together with my two-year-old.
She is exuberance incarnate, and therefore when things are good, they are very, very good. And when things are bad, they’re terrible.
When I experience my daughter’s toddler tantrums, the panic buttons go off inside my mind and body, too.
So, how do I deal with this?
Sometimes I try to talk with her. Sometimes I try to hold her. Other times, I try to distract her.
Many times those tactics simply don’t get us anywhere.
So, that’s when I sit with her. Yes, I sit next to her as she cries, yells, or rolls around on the floor.
While I’m sitting there I try to keep myself calm by breathing deeply, or maybe even counting out loud.
Deep Breathing and Well-being
Sometimes, I try to encourage my daughter to take a deep breath in those moments of strong emotion. Generally she doesn’t take well to my prompting, and she may even redouble her powerful onslaught of negative expression.
Yet, to my delight, she sometimes internalizes more of my advice than I expected. One time, I actually saw her take a deep breath during a stressful moment! Wow.
Each individual child will have more or less tantrums than other children. Each individual child will express emotion in unique ways, and with more or less intensity than other kids. That’s because your child – just like a niece, nephew, friend, or grandchild – is one of a kind.
Toddler Tantrums and Emotional Support
While each of us will deal with our child’s tantrums in our own ways, it is proven that being there with and for them during those times can be truly beneficial to their emotional development.
It’s a beautiful thing to know that someone will be with us, through thick and thin, in good times and in bad. It’s comforting to know that someone loves us, even though we drive them crazy sometimes.
The same goes for kids. They want to know that they can have strong feelings like toddler tantrums without being bad for it. They want to know that there is someone next to them when the world seems to be falling apart. Lastly, they want to know that someone will help them to make sense of the things that confuse them.
Kids See the World Differently
Losing a box of crayons, or having to leave the playground too soon don’t seem earth-shattering to an adult. But kids don’t have adult mind-power, adult experience, adult thinking, or adult reasoning.
To them, leaving the playground could feel like a real tragedy.
Kids’ tantrums aren’t only about “getting their way” or “making a stink” about little things. It’s their way of reaching out to ask for help, to ask for comfort, to ask for support, to express frustration. They’re just not very good at communicating all of that with words, yet.
It’s our prerogative, as adults, to be their strength and foundation in the midst of the emotional earthquakes.
Maybe that means stepping away for a minute or so to regain our composure before interacting with our child who is having toddler tantrums.
Or, maybe that means taking a deep breath.
Perhaps that means holding our child close, if he or she responds well to that physical contact.
It could mean giving direction if the child’s behavior is physically destructive or dangerous. It could mean removing the child to a safe place where he or she can calm down from toddler tantrums.
Finally, it most definitely means that we could benefit, along with our child, from endeavoring to find the inner balance and peace needed to withstand toddler tantrums together with our little one.
About the Writer
Susannah Strong is mom to a spunky two-year-old, and wife to a busy medical student. She has a dual degree in Psychology and Anthropology and has always been deeply interested in the human experience. Recently she started up her own blog, where she shares her insights on life, love and family; original recipes, and joy in the simple things of life.