Today’s post is all about what to do with your toddler when you hit those hair pulling tantrum scenes that you know so well if you’ve got a baby over 12 months:
I want that! No, I want THAT!! No THAT!!!! No No No No!!!
I can do it myself! I can’t do it!! Don’t help me!
Waaaaaaa! (flat down on the sidewalk)
The strategies I’m about to give you are from moms in our Baby in Tune classes and I fully endorse them all.
Before we go into them, remember your most important first steps –
- Allow for difficult emotions.
- Take a breath.
- Know that it is completely normal and will pass.
Ok. Now let’s look at 4 great ways to handle tough moments.
4 Strategies to Turn a Tantrum Around.
Sing a song
It’s probably not surprising that this is my favorite technique. When you sing a song as your baby is having a hard time, it does a few things:
- Lightens up the mood. It lowers your baby’s (and your) cortisol levels and reduces stress.
- Adds playfulness to the situation. Reminds you both that there is another way to deal with the situation.
- Offers a solution. For instance, the mom who said she sings a song uses the Hokey Pokey when her toddler is having a hard time getting dressed – “you put your right leg in…)
- Is a time keeper. Gives your baby to take a few breaths until the song is over. By that time they might have regained some equilibrium.
(This week I’ll be illustrating these strategies on my Instagram page if you want ot see them in action.)
Find the Game
This is the ultimate cure for tantrums. It can be most effective but also demands the most from you initially.
It’s about finding the play or the game in the situation. The reason its so hard for us is that when your baby is yelling in the shopping cart, arching their back and trying to throw anything in reach, you might not exactly feel like playing. You probably feel like getting the hell out of there as soon as possible.
But if for a moment you’re able to access your super-parent powers that may be dormant at that moment, you can turn the situation around completely. Once you manage to eke out a small smile you’ll be cruising.
- If your baby is having a hard time getting dressed, you might stick your hand into a pant leg and surprise them by turning it into a puppet.
- Maybe you put your shopping list aside for a moment and start driving the car around like a car, cutting corners and making car noises.
- When they don’t want to get out of the bath maybe you take one of the bath animals and act out a scene with them in the water that ends with the animal exiting the bath
You want your child to know that it is totally ok to have big emotions and to express them in any way that is not harmful to them or others. With this strategy you are giving your toddler the space they might need but are also letting them know that you are with them. It works best when you’re at home and have time to ride it out with them.
You can say something like “I’m with you. It’s ok. let me know when you’re ready for me to help you.”
The important part is to do this without resentment or anger. You’re standing by and allowing space for your toddler’s feelings.
Set a Timer
Sometimes tantrums happen right when you need to get somewhere, get dressed, leave the house, get out of the store and you don’t have the time to patiently let your toddler ride through their peaks and valleys.
In those cases it’s nice to provide your baby with some structure. Having limits can be comforting, especially when they’re in a state of loss of control. It also helps you feel a sense of control and gather yourself before approaching again with patience and compassion.
What you would do is say – “I’m going to put a timer on for 3 minutes. During the 3 minutes you can try on your own as much as you want. Once the timer goes off you’ll let me help you.”
Before, during, or after these episodes make sure you give YOURSELF the same compassion. Let yourself step away for a minute, gather yourself, give yourself a hug.
Better yet, do this for me – high five your reflection in the mirror and tell yourself you’re a kick ass mama. And then get back in the ring.
Do you have a friend who needs tantrum help? Send them this post and tell them to sign up below for more helpful tips.
What strategy do you use when your baby is having a tantrum? Is it any of these? COMMENT below and let me know.
For more info on different types of tantrums and how to handle them check out this post.