I’ve been using Mondays to clear out my mailbox. This week’s question deals with the topic of kids pitching fits. Read on for 5 tips on taming your toddler’s temper tantrums.
Question: How should I respond to my young child’s tantrums?
Hello dear Flanders!
I have a group of mothers here in my city and we are using the 25 Ways to Show Respect. I would like to ask about my son. He is one-year-old little boy (1 year and 6 months). Sometimes I don’t know if I have to discipline him or no.
Let me give an example: Today I was in the supermarket and I didn’t do what he wanted. He started to cry and jump in the floor. He tried to bite me, too. You guys have some good tips for this age? I appreciate so much if you could help me.
Thank you so much.
Answer: Make certain such behavior is never rewarded
If you want to keep your little one from throwing tantrums in the future, make sure you don’t reward him for doing so in the present.
Too often when children make such scenes in public, their parents try to minimize their own embarrassment by doing whatever it takes to appease the child quickly (like buying the candy bar he’s whining for and letting him eat it while the checker rings up the rest of the groceries).
You must resist the urge to do this. Otherwise, you are simply teaching your child that throwing a fit is a good way to get what he wants.
Beyond that very important principle, there are a few other things you can do that will help prevent meltdowns in children as young as yours. Next time you are out in public with your little boy, try the following suggestions:
5 Tips for Taming Toddler Temper Tantrums
Set your child up for success
As much as possible, tend to his primary needs before putting him into what might be a stressful or tempting situation. Make sure he has a full tummy and a dry diaper before heading into the store. Time your errands so that don’t encroach upon naptime. A tired, soiled, or hungry baby will have a much harder time sitting contentedly in the cart as you make your selections.
This will become more important (and more effective) as your child gets older, but go ahead and get in the habit now of telling him clearly — before you ever get out of the car — how you expect him to act in the store and what the consequences will be if he disobeys. That way, there will be no surprises later on if he acts up. Your course of action will have already been outlined, and you’ll just need to follow through.
Stay off the toy and candy aisle when your little one is in the cart. Children are naturally curious (which is a good thing!), so consider bringing a toy from home he can handle and play with as you shop. If he uses a pacifier, be sure to pack that, as well. Some squirmy babies do better being carried in a sling than sitting in a cart, so you might try that, too, and see if it makes your outings any more peaceful.
Interact with your child
I know it’s easy to get distracted by the task at hand when you are shopping, but your child will soon become bored and restless if he isn’t allowed to talk or touch anything. Engage him in conversation to keep that from happening. Tell him what you are doing and why. This can be a simple matter of thinking aloud and directing the comments toward him. “I can’t forget to buy peanut butter. I wonder whether I should get creamy or crunchy. Let’s see what the price difference is. Oh, look! I have a coupon for this brand! Isn’t that great?”
Lead by example
If you want to tame your toddler’s temper tantrums, you need to refrain from pitching fits yourself. Your child is much more likely to do as you do than to do as you say. It’s unrealistic to expect an 18-month-old to refrain from venting his anger and making impatient demands if we are losing our own tempers and patience while angrily demanding he stop. When your child is having a meltdown, it is doubly important that you remain calm, cool, and collected as you deal with it. Be firm but loving, patient but persuasive. Take him out of the store if you must, but never ever ever try to buy his cooperation or bribe him into behaving by rewarding tantrums.
I hope these tips on training toddler temper tantrums will make your next shopping trip more enjoyable for everyone involved. If you wish to create and maintain a calm, peaceful life at home, as well, try these suggestions. And you’ll find even more tips for dealing with cranky kids in this post: A Sure-Fire Way to Wipe Out Whining