How Do I Handle Toddler Tantrums?

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments
Annie The Nanny

Annie The Nanny

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Annie the Nanny is a professional parenting educator. She writes a weekly advice column for parents who need help with their children's behaviour. Her advice has also been featured on CTV, CBC and in all kinds of print media. For more information about Annie, please go to her 'about' page.

Hi Annie,

How do I handle toddler tantrums?  I think that I usually handle my almost 2 year olds tantrums quite well as I ignore her, but I struggle when dealing with this in public. I find it challenging to manage the staring and questioning of ‘who’s kid is that?’ That’s particularly the case when I leave her laying on the floor screaming while I go off and help my older child get ready to leave the place we are at. I’m never far and I keep an eye on what’s happening, but feel like I’m being that negligent parent. I’d love to just remove her from the situation, but often that is not a feasible option with my older one in tow. Suggestions? Thanks Monique

Hi Monique.

I need to stop yelling at my childThat’s a really good question.  I understand how you feel completely.  It’s very hard to handle a temper tantrum when you’ve got your hands full like that and people can often be judgmental when they shouldn’t. After all, I don’t think anyone should criticize until they’ve walked a mile in your shoes.

First, when you’re in public, think prevention

In terms of how to deal with it though, first let’s look at what you can do to prevent meltdowns.  Try and go at a time when your children have been fed and your little one is fully awake having had a decent time to wake up from a nap if she was having one.  Then cheerily state your expectations for the trip up front and look as though you expect the kids to behave as you’ve asked.  

Keep them busy

When it’s time to include them in your shop, let your two year old  ‘hold’ unbreakable things and help put them in the cart or find the bananas or the oranges.  You can make it slightly more challenging for your older child.  Let your children try weighing things and let them help you put the articles on the conveyor belt at the till and help you carry items out to the car.

Stop and evaluate the best response

If your youngest still decides it’s worth her while to throw a fit, first you have to analyze whether it’s a big enough temper to leave the store or more of a whiny cry session.  If it’s the latter, you can simply ignore her as you’re doing and engage your older child in looking for something close by.  Look occupied and not bothered.   Then when she’s finished, just resume your activity.

Make sure you remove attention from the tantrum

If it’s the latter, it becomes a lot more difficult and I’m afraid there are no easy answers but there is something you can do to help you through such an eventuality.  Take along something in the car that would momentarily engage your older child.  Then if your youngest throws a big fit, I would suggest you’re much better off to simply ‘drop’ your shopping in a quieter spot and go out to the car with both children. Put your youngest in her seat and completely ignore her and then pay tons of attention to your older child.  Whether permitting, stay outside the car.  Perhaps your older child can help you be mommy’s special helper and help you check the tire pressure!  Anything really that makes you look busy and occupied and not at all bothered by your youngest one’s screaming fit.  A lot of this comes down to being a good actor!  I know that’s more difficult than it looks!

If you were doing something before the tantrum, you must do it after!

Then when you notice your little one’s temper has subsided, take her out of the seat and resume your activity.  Don’t make a big deal of her temper.  Everything is ok and she’s now back to doing things with you.  The idea you want to give your child is that if you were going to do an activity before the meltdown, you must do it afterwards, so go back and resume doing your groceries.  With any luck your cart will still be there.  Doing that, shows your daughter that her meltdown has not altered what you do with your day.  It probably won’t take her long to figure out that if her temper doesn’t get her anywhere, there’s really not much point in her having one.

Always have an open ear

Just make sure (as I’m sure you’re already doing ) that as she gets bigger, you give her opportunities to vent her feeling in a positive way.  The best way to do that include her in your day to day activities.  If you’re sorting socks, let her help hand them to you or if you’re cleaning the kitchen give her a cloth too.  It’s amazing how kids open up and talk when you do things together and it really helps prevent a lot of issues later on.  For more parenting help, please visit the services page.

Hope that helps,

Annie

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