My daughter just turned two this august as well as started preschool. These two major milestones proved too much for her little budding self! The result too many tantrums and one very exhausted mama. The typical day in our house begins with little H waking at 7 and demanding Meek as she calls milk in a loud cranky voice. God forbid if the cup of milk is not already ready and there on the bedside table. Because even a 2 second delay triggers a massive tantrum. Now you ask me what about brushing teeth, going potty etc. Well I will be frank here, I am lucky most days if she brushes her teeth willingly. Mostly it is a battle in which I pin her arms and legs and swipe at her teeth with the toothbrush while she tries to claw at me! I have tried everything from bribing her, to buying her new toothbrushes with cartoon characters to letting her watch me n her daddy brush. But so far nothing has worked. Suggestions are desperately needed.
Then dressing up, combing hair, breakfast is again a battle of wills. I prefer picking my battles and usually end up taking a toddler with an out of the bed hairdo to school. Sigh. And don’t even get me started on the diaper changing diaper. Many a times I just let her run around with a poopy diaper until it literally starts leaking (I hope that was not TMI!).
Toddlers are fickle creatures. One moment they will be happily playing, the next moment they will be thrashing on the floor on all fours screaming like a banshee. Anything and everything can tick them off. It is like living with a ticking time bomb!
Here is my take on how to tackle and minimize tantrums:
- Have a set routine: Having a schedule helps bring order to H’s days. She knows what is coming next and when she has a set bedtime and nap time there is less chance of her being overtired, hungry or just plain overwhelmed. And any mama knows that most tantrums happen when the kids’ sleep cycles are messed up.
- Distract: Of course every child is different but in the case of H if I am able to distract her just before something is about to trigger a tantrum that tantrum can be averted. For example after coming home tired from preschool she starts whining about having biscuits. That whine will grow and grow till she is sprawled on all fours screaming. If I am able to offer her alternative choices like an early lunch or maybe distract her with some activity then disaster averted.
- Ignore: Once the tantrum begins the best strategy is to ignore while making sure the child does not hurt himself/herself or others. Initially I would try to comfort or cuddle H. That would just lead her to screaming noooo even more violently. Soon I learned that if I just sit calmly nearby when she is done crying she would come to me herself and ask for a tichoo aka tissue. And she has hardly ever cried for more than ten mins.
- Keep calm: This one might seem pretty obvious but it is kinda difficult to stay calm in the face of a screaming toddler. But staying calm is your best bet. Remember kids can pick up your emotions in an instant. So if you start feeling frustrated and angry it would be harder for your child to calm down.
- Encourage your toddler’s independence: Toddlers are just beginning to realize that they are separate beings and they can do so much. Of course they cannot always do what they want to and that leads to frustration. I have seen many parents discourage the “me do it” stage by telling their child you are too small to do it or simply no you won’t be able to do it. I believe it is imperative to develop their confidence by letting them do age appropriate tasks even if it means they will make a mess or take three times longer. I know easier said than done. Sigh.
Ok I hear little H screaming about something. Time to take a break and good luck to all you toddler mamas!