Toddlers don’t see life like we do. The biggest challenge of the terrible twos is dealing with the energy of “I want what I want, and I want it now.” Trying to reason with a determined tot only creates more frustration. A better approach is to look at the situation from your little one’s point of view. Here are some ways to head off temper tantrums before they begin.
Validate and Affirm
Everyone wants validation, even at two years old. You can affirm what your toddler wants while leading him or her in the desired direction. What if your baby wants cookies before dinner? Rather than deny this request because dinner is in an hour, you can validate it by saying, “Yes, cookies are so yummy. We’re having them tonight for dessert! Won’t that be awesome?” Cookies are now on the agenda, but after dinner rather than before.
Get Some Toys On Your Team
Let’s say it’s nap time, but your toddler is busy playing with his trucks and not about to stop. You might say, “This truck (preferably his favorite) has to go to the mechanic and have some repair work done or it will break down. You can take a nap, and when you wake up, the truck will be all fixed and ready to roll!” This approach makes taking a nap part of playing with the truck.
Distract and Refocus
Little ones live in the now, and they don’t want to let go of what feels good. To move on to another activity, focus on future fun. Let’s say you’re visiting Grandma, who indulges your toddler’s every whim. When it’s time to go, you are met with a defiant “No!” Instead of arguing, redirect attention to the next fun activity — like getting ice cream on the way home.
Ignore the Behavior
Toddlers throw tantrums to get what they want, and like everyone else, they want attention and interaction. Ignoring a furious child can be very difficult, but eventually they run out of steam and get tired of being ignored. If you can put up with the noise and wait it out, this always works — eventually.
Don’t Assume Your Toddler Will Outgrow Tantrums
We all repeat behaviors that get us what we want. If you cave with every storm of the terrible twos, your toddler will learn that tantrums are a great way to get desired results. While it’s challenging to master the art of controlling a tantrum, it’s worth the effort, and it beats finding yourself with a three, four or five year-old who has mastered the art of controlling you.