Minimize Toddler Tantrum With These Two Things
By Kerry on November 10, 2018
Quote of the Week
“I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way!”
— Carl Sandberg”
MAIN CAUSES OF TODDLER TANTRUMS
Your toddler wakes up one morning WAY too early and they are NOT going back to sleep. In desperation you plop them in front of the TV or tablet and fall asleep next to them. When you wake up, you say all done and immediately turn the TV off. Enter, the toddler tantrum monster. The inconsolable, end of the world, standing up stamping feet, child that to quiet you either muster all the energy you have to move through it to get the dressed, breakfast, and out the door you OR just turn the TV back on to make it stop.
We have all been there in one way or another.
The reason for this? Other than screen time being it’s own challenge. The TV was turned off immediately. It was abrupt. When children are watching tv, playing a game with friends or themselves, the are engrossed. It’s why it takes a few times to get their attention when calling their name.
Different people call this different things. It’s what my pediatrician called it and once he explained it, it made ALL the sense in the world.
Forecasting is letting children know what’s coming next. All children. Hell, even adults need it time to time. You basically say, “Johnny, 5 minutes then tv off and we’re going to get dressed…. Johnny, 2 minutes then tv off and we’re going to get dressed… okay tv off, let’s go get dressed.”
Give the time, let them know what they’re currently doing is going to stop and here’s what comes next.
Even for future events this is helpful.
When we took pacifiers away from our daughter it wasn’t over night. We laid out 5 pacis in her bed and each night we took one away and said, in 5 nights no more pacis. 4 nights no more pacis……… okay, last night for a paci…. then they were done and she was done with it.
Forecast! Who knew?!
There’s two very clear examples of things that are familiar for children, they’re schedule and a specific toy or stuffed animal/blanket/pacifier/insert comfort item here.
The reason these are important because again it comes back to children needing to know what comes next. By having a set schedule each day you’ll have less tantrums as children will know what comes next without too much hassle.
This doesn’t have to be carved in stone. In terms of time it’s flexible. Things don’t have to happen on the hour every single day. The day just needs a general flow to it and after running the same plays each day you’ll get a sense of their thresholds. For instance my children watch tv every morning for no more than an hour and no less than 20 minutes. It’s like a REM cycle. If it’s too short you get a tantrum and if it’s too long you get a tantrum. Somewhere in between and as long as we forecast the end and what’s coming next generally it’s a smooth transition.
They’re stuffy is also super important and helpful because if something is different in their schedule like going to the doctor or for a long car ride or having something happen at school like hitting or bitting then having that familiar, comforting thing makes everything a little less scary.
FIND YOUR HAPPY MEDIUM
Like all things this balance between forecasting and familiar comes with what works for you and your family. I know some families who use timers. They set a 2 or 5 minute timer and just tell their child that when the timer goes off they need to go, “to the potty”, “clean up their toys”, “to tubby time”, etc. We just say it. Gives us flexibility because children have no understanding of how long something ACTUALLY is so if you say 5 minutes you could stretch it because you see they’re really in the zone. Having a timer helps you remember if you’re like me and have the short term memory of a nat.
My happy medium with forecasting is to set a timer for myself, and if I want to extend it then I add two minutes and if I fee like things are going south then I just cancel it early and say, it’s been 2 minutes time to go!
Whatever your happy medium, keeping these two things in mind has really helped me reduce the number of freak outs my children have on a regular basis.