Toddlers require huge patience and understanding due to limited language
Want fewer Tantrums?
Then give them a sense of being listened to & understood
A toddler’s world is one of limited language which can lead to frustration as well as big emotions. Their feelings can sometimes be too much for them, but they cannot find the words to tell you what is wrong. They can feel swamped by their feelings and they need us to help them regulate their ‘big’ feelings.
Toddlers need to feel secure, understood and accepted by the people who care for them most.
Help your toddler express big emotions
- Stay calm, is probably the most important as you set the tone, what tone do you set? The calmer you are, the calmer they will be. Be calm even when your child is upset – this models positive ways to handle big feelings
- prepare your child for situations that might be upsetting – for example, times when your child might have to be separated from you
- create a low-risk environment for your child to explore, be independent and make mistakes. Mistakes help them to learn new skills.
- help your child put feelings into words and talk through angry feelings
Communicating with your toddler when tantrums happen
Remember this, your child is not trying to make your life difficult, they are trying to show you that things are not easy for them through their negative behaviour. It could be jealousy of a new baby or feeling given out to by Mum or anxious about going to crèche. Therefore, the best response to difficult behaviour is to be Kind and Compassionate. Planned ignoring of poor behaviour and instead focus on ‘catching them being good’ will improve things. All behaviour reinforces so the more you tell them what they are doing right, the more ‘right’ they will do.
Solutions to Toddler Tantrums
- Come down to the child’s eye level,
- Use their name,
- Look at them
- Really listen.
- Listen for the feelings behind the words.
- Acknowledge how they feel
- Use distraction early
- Try humour
‘I know honey, you don’t want to put your shoes on’ can mean they feel understood and engage more co-operation from them.
- Put a bit of fun into it, it’s when we get to serious and are trying to force an issue ‘We’re putting the shoes on and that’s it!’ that they dig the heels in (literally!).
Talking is important!
- Really tune into what your child is trying to say. Notice the emotions behind it.
- Make regular time to communicate with your child. Even a few minutes every hour makes a difference.
- Meet the need in the moment if you can so when your toddler comes to you, try to drop whatever you are doing to talk. It is likely your child only really needs your undivided attention for a minute or two. Sometimes even a “aah, I see” lets them know you are listening.
- Get down to your child’s level to talk by kneeling or squatting. Eye contact is so important for them to know they have your undivided attention.
- Try to let your child finish sentences before interrupting – no matter how meandering those sentences might be. This takes practice and patience!
- Read to your child and tell stories. Picture books help children learn about language.