Tantrum taming: 20 parenting strategies for dealing with toddler meltdowns - Hindustan Times
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Tantrum taming: 20 parenting strategies for dealing with toddler meltdowns

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Feb 18, 2024 02:40 PM IST

Check out these 20 practical strategies that parents can use while dealing with toddler tantrums

Tantrums, characterised by emotional outbursts and intense displays of frustration, are a natural part of a child's developmental journey where common tantrums often unfold as fervent protests accompanied by inconsolable tears and unwavering resistance. Tantrums are common as toddlers learn to express themselves and cope with their emotions.

Tantrum taming: 20 parenting strategies for dealing with toddler meltdowns (Photo by Phil Nguyen on Pexels)
Tantrum taming: 20 parenting strategies for dealing with toddler meltdowns (Photo by Phil Nguyen on Pexels)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anita Madan, Head of Curriculum Development at EuroKids, shared, “Dealing with toddler tantrums is one of the most challenging aspects of the parenting journey. Caregivers must see tantrums as a natural part of a child's development, starting around 12 to 15 months and subsiding by the time the child is 4. However, handling tantrums requires thoughtful strategies, as common approaches like using treats, bribes, or giving in are ineffective and do not offer long-term relief.”

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She suggested a few practical strategies parents can use while dealing with toddler tantrums -

  1. Promoting Positive Conversations: Caregivers/parents must be positive and normalise conversations during a tantrum. They should understand tantrums are a form of communication for children struggling to express their feelings verbally. Instead of viewing tantrums as personal attacks on their parenting skills, parents should understand toddlers often lack the skills to manage their significant emotions. Moreover, recognizing tantrums as a form of communication by the child allows parents to guide them in effective communication and emotional management.
  2. Understanding the cause: Parents should delve into understanding potential triggers instead of reacting solely to the surface of a tantrum, ensuring a compassionate response. Triggers can vary widely and may include hunger, fatigue, frustration, overstimulation, lack of attention, or changes in routine. By recognizing these triggers, parents gain insight into the specific needs or challenges the child may be facing.
  3. Encouraging open dialogue: Once triggers are identified, parents must respond compassionately and encourage effective communication. Depending on the child's age, parents can teach them alternative ways to express their emotions to help the child convey their feelings rather than resorting to a tantrum. It is crucial not to rely on practices such as bribing, physical discipline, and giving in to the child's demands instantly.
  4. Working closely with teachers/ preschools: It is also essential to have open communication channels with teachers, especially during significant transitions like the initial weeks of preschool. Schools, on their part, should prioritize personal conversations with parents, addressing any emerging tantrums or behavioral changes in new social settings.
  5. Creating a calm environment: Establishing a calm environment at home can significantly impact a toddler's emotional well-being. It is essential to refrain from raising voice or hand, fostering an atmosphere of gentle guidance. Limiting exposure to overstimulating situations, maintaining a consistent daily routine, and ensuring adequate rest can contribute to a more stable emotional state for toddlers. Creating a peaceful atmosphere at home provides a supportive foundation for managing and preventing tantrums.

Dr Anita Madan added, “It is an ongoing process. Parents must be patient, reinforce positive behavior with praise, establish routines, teach feeling words, and introduce coping skills. These strategies can aid parents in navigating toddler tantrums with empathy, understanding, and a focus on fostering healthy emotional development in their children.”

Vijay Kumar Agarwal, CEO and Co-Founder at Makoons Group of Schools, said, “Parenting babies offers its very own set of barriers, one of the maximum well-known of which is handling tantrums. Those surprising, strong bursts of emotion can go away dad and mom are perplexed and fatigued. Understanding and executing precise procedures, however, can remodel these difficult times into great chances for growth and connection.” He recommended -

1. Empathetic Understanding: Tantrums are often sparked through inflammation or an incapability to adequately communicate. The first step as a parent is to address the state of affairs with empathy. Recognise your infant's feelings, even if you are unable to cope with their immediate desires. Simple remarks such as "I see you are disillusioned" recognise their sentiments and foster knowledge.

2. Stay Calm and Consistent: During outbursts, Dad and Mom must keep their cool. Your emotional circumstances will have an impact on your infant's behaviour. Maintain consistency in your responses with the aid of setting up clear boundaries and expectations. Toddlers benefit from consistency because it offers them an experience of balance and enables them to find out about motive and effect.

3. Distraction and Redirection: A properly-timed diversion can every now and then do wonders. Provide an exchange pastime or draw their interest to some thing sparkling. Redirecting their strength helps to alternate their attention away from the source of their aggravation, allowing them to loosen up.

4. Establish Routine and Predictability: Toddlers thrive on predictability and routine. A constant daily plan reduces tension and reduces the hazard of tantrums. Toddlers gain manage over their surroundings once they recognise what to anticipate.

5. Teach Emotional Intelligence: Use tantrums as teaching opportunities for emotional intelligence. Assist your little one in figuring out and expressing their feelings vocally. Simple sentences like "It's okay to be mad, but permit's communicate about it" promote emotional attention and verbal exchange abilities development.

6. Celebrate Positive Behaviour: Positive reinforcement is effective. Celebrate when your toddler expresses themselves lightly or manages displeasure efficaciously. This motivates youngsters to have interaction in superb behaviour and promotes the perception that verbal exchange is vital.

Vijay Kumar Agarwal revealed, “Tantrums are a ordinary a part of toddlerhood but with the proper strategies, they will be changed into manageable mastering reports. Parents may additionally provide a supportive environment that enables babies modify their emotions and increase crucial life talents by treating tantrums with empathy, consistency, and innovative answers. Remember that every tantrum is an possibility for each the determine and the child to study and grow together.”

Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Aakanksha Gupta, Vice President (Media and Communication) at SK Education, said, “Tantrums and meltdowns are not an extraordinary part of a child’s growth and development. Rather, they are something that must be expected and regarded as inevitably integral to toddlerhood. Challenging as it is to address these tantrums and meltdowns, it is important to understand that such behaviour on any child’s part reflects more of his/her struggle to navigate the surroundings, particularly due to overwhelming emotions, than his/her intentional act to test the patience of caretakers.”

She advised some effective strategies for dealing with the tantrums and meltdowns of children -

  1. Acknowledge: Acknowledging that children are undergoing a tumultuous phase due to newfound verbal and emotional capacities is the first step to dealing with their meltdowns. Caretakers should be patient and empathetic in the process, as children’s inability to communicate their difficult emotions is quite real oftentimes and too overwhelming.
  2. Communicate: The second step is to communicate and help children communicate. This way, caretakers not only encourage language development but also pacify the overwhelming emotions that children might be feeling. It is also crucial to give them a sense of control in such situations, and offering reasonable choices greatly helps in that.
  3. Set Boundaries: Setting clear boundaries minimises the triggers that lead to tantrums. Moreover, daily routines and consistency help create a stable environment where emotional regulation is feasible for children. Therefore, the significance of setting clear boundaries and creating a consistent routine has to be kept in mind while dealing with toddler meltdowns.
  4. Maintain Composure: When caretakers take a step back from the tantrums and meltdowns of children and maintain composure, it paves the way for effective resolution of the issue at hand. This is because a calm demeanour reassures children that their emotions are understood and they, in turn, find it easier to regulate their overwhelming and difficult emotions.
  5. Prioritise Self-Care: It is not possible for the caretakers to follow any of the steps and strategies mentioned above if they do not prioritise self-care. Children’s tantrums and meltdowns are bound to be emotionally taxing, hence caretakers should ensure that they take care of themselves as much as they take care of their children.

Dr Aakanksha Gupta said, “With acknowledgement, communication, boundaries, composure, and self-care, toddler tantrums and meltdowns can be effectively managed. It is the responsibility of caretakers to integrate these steps into their own management strategies and develop their children’s socio-emotional intelligence.”

According to Anamika Dasgupta, Director at The Wonder School and Founder of Potters Earth Foundation and Education Research Centre, parenting is the only job where you are on call 24/7 and the boss is someone who thinks broccoli is the enemy. She said, “Toddler tantrums, those unpredictable eruptions of emotion, can leave even the most seasoned parents questioning their sanity. Fear not! Here's a crash course in tantrum taming that blends easy-but-firm parenting with a dash of ancient Indian wisdom and a sprinkle of tongue-in-cheek humour.”

  1. First thing first, what is the secret to this "easy but firm" parenting? Picture yourself as a gentle guide, a kind of modern-day Maharishi of Meltdowns, leading your tiny human through the tumultuous waters of extreme emotions. Embrace the ancient concept of "Sthirata" – calm and balance. Set boundaries with a smile (hiding well the inner scowl) and find that sweet spot between being a pushover and a dictator. Tell yourself – I’m not just a parent; I’m a zen master of tiny chaos.
  2. Your toddler may sometimes remind you more of a stubborn pet, always testing boundaries but that’s far from how you should respond. They are not fluffy creatures that respond to treats and commands. Treat them as "Balak" – little people with opinions. Engage in conversations, even if it is about why socks are the enemy. They have opinions too, and acknowledging those tiny voices can work wonders.
  3. When the storm of a tantrum hits, take a deep breath. Your serenity will be the lighthouse guiding your little one through the tempest. Remember, it's okay not to have all the answers. Sometimes, just being a witness with a compassionate heart – Sakshi Bhava - is the ancient wisdom we need. After all, ancient sages didn't have timeouts but they sure knew how to find peace in the chaos.
  4. Now, let's address the elephant in the room – the pressure on parents to be perfect. Don't turn parenting into a high-stakes game with an elusive 'correct' style. Trust your instincts and embrace the messy, imperfect beauty of the journey. Remember, there's no universal manual; it's more like a choose-your-own-adventure book. In the grand dance of parenting, weave a tapestry of love, humour, and ancient wisdom. Embrace the chaos, laugh at the broccoli battles, and remember – there's no one-size-fits-all manual. Parenting is a choose-your-own-adventure, and your unique journey is the real treasure. So, go ahead, dance through the chaos, laugh at the broccoli battles, and know that every misstep is just a step closer to mastering the art of toddler taming.

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