If you’ve spent a significant amount of time around a toddler, chances are you’re familiar with toddler tantrums. The “terrible twos” and “threenager threes” are no walk in the park. If you have a cranky toddler on your hands, you might be relieved to know you are not alone.
Every toddler is prone to the occasional bad day. Since infants can’t express their emotions with words, they often use tears, screaming, and body language to express pain, frustration, and fear. From teething to illness, there are many reasons little ones can have a bad day. Here are a few tips to keep calm and carry on when your little one isn’t cooperating.
The C.A.L.M. Method
The C.A.L.M. method is a great tool to keep both you and your toddler patient and practical in times of stress. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember the four steps of the C.A.L.M. method to get from chaotic to calm quickly.
- Create a Calming Environment
- Act with Empathy and Practical Solutions
- Look for the Root of the Problem
- Maintain Patience
Create a Calming Environment
Creating a calm environment is one of the easiest ways to handle tantrums because it can prevent them before they take place. Relaxing music can soothe cranky babies, and allowing children to sleep longer than usual can also prevent pre-nap meltdowns.
If your children are homeschooled and prone to frustration, take breaks to prevent burnout and overwhelm and consider having a period of time in the afternoon devoted to reading, listening to calming music, and other quiet activities.
Act with Empathy and Provide Practical Solutions
Remember that your child may be acting out of frustration or fear when they have a tantrum. Act with empathy while providing practical solutions to resolve the situation. Here are the first steps you should take during a tantrum.
- Offer Snacks
- Provide Opportunities for Sleep
- Check Temperature
Look for the Root of the Problem
As adults it may be easy for us to assume that our children are behaving badly to act out or exert their independence, but in reality many tantrums can be the result of an illness, hunger, delayed nap time, and other factors that are outside of their control. Here are some of the most common causes of childhood tantrums.
Hungry babies are prone to crying, and hungry toddlers are prone to tantrums. Sticking to a feeding schedule is the easiest way to prevent hunger-related meltdowns, but keeping snacks handy for trips and busy days can help you stay prepared when sticking to your normal schedule isn’t possible.
Lack of Sleep
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that sleepy babies make grumpy babies. Creating and sticking to a routine is the easiest way to alleviate tantrums caused by a lack of sleep, but there are times when your baby may need more than the usual amount of nap time. On holidays and trips or when your routine is interrupted, understand that it’s normal for your child to respond in the only way they know how to get your attention before they learn to talk - by crying.
Teething babies are infamous for crying. After all, growing teeth is painful. If you’ve ever had wisdom teeth grow through the gums, you’ll know just how bad it can feel. If your baby is experiencing teething, don’t lose your cool over crying. Several teething products can help ease and alleviate the pain.
If your child is crying repeatedly and no other cause can be found, you should make an appointment with your his or her pediatrician to rule out any illnesses. Check for fever and monitor eating and bathroom habits in case a virus or infection is to blame.
If your child is in pain and too young to convey it through verbal communication, he or she may have outbursts as a result. Prolonged periods of crying in which food, sleep, diaper changes, affection, and attention do nothing to calm your little one, it’s important to see your pediatrician to ensure no serious underlying causes are to blame.
It’s true. Sometimes children and adolescents act out in order to receive attention. For little ones especially, it’s important to help them understand the ways attention can be requested in a calm and collected way, but for babies, the need for a mother’s affection cannot be translated through words, so it’s inevitable that some tears may occur. If you feel your little one is in need of extra attention or affection, try to make time in your schedule to spend quality time with him or her.
The last thing you want to do when your child is throwing a tantrum is lose your patience. Not only does acting out of anger create a barrier between the problem and the solution, but your ultimate goal should be to both handle the situation while acting as a role model for your child.
Children as early as 2 can mimic the behavior of the adults around them. If you lose your cool every time your child loses his, he will learn that anger is an acceptable response to frustration. Infants and adolescents who see their parents model patience and perseverance through times of frustration and difficulty are more likely to do the same.