Throwing tantrums may just be a ‘phase’ but that doesn’t make them less of a headache. We’ve worked out quick fixes for the most common meltdowns. You’re welcome!
Throwing tantrums is part of your child’s development and often an expression of frustration. Just imagine your Asos account being blocked. There’s nothing you can do about it AND someone’s insisting you eat peas. That said, your little angel may use a tantrum to explore their influence over others. Usually you.
Once your toddler’s perfected the art of tantrums, you need to be strategic. ‘If you take a child out when he’s tired or ignore pleas to fix a toy, you’re upping the chances of a tantrum,’ says psychologist Dr Sandra Wheatley.
But that’s not to say you should give your toddler what he wants. ‘By thinking about a situation from your child’s perspective, you’re showing him he’s important and this can be enough to stop the frustration,’ adds Sandra.
Other than making sure he’s safe and staying calm, learn the art of distraction. Until your baby’s old enough to understand his own behaviour, the best way to keep him in check is with a few games and tricks to distract him. We’ve rounded up our fave tantrum-dodging tactics.
You want him to: Get into, or out of, the bath
Your baby wants to: Carry on playing
Quick fix? Create a better game.
‘Ask if he wants to play flying ducks, then make getting in or out of the bath fun by pretending to make him fly as you lift him,’ says child psychologist Lynne Hipkin. ‘Meanwhile, distract him by asking him to quack like a duck.’ He’ll be wrapped in that fluffy towel in no time.
You want him to: Eat his food
Your baby wants to: Throw cutlery/cup of water/food on the floor
Quick fix? Ignore bad behaviour and play this game.
‘Now I bet you can’t eat those peas when I turn my head away’. When you turn back, he’ll probably have eaten it, and he’ll be delighted by your expression of surprise or mock disapproval. Keep this joke going for as long as it takes.
You want him to: Stop touching something
Your baby wants to: Press buttons
Quick fix? Be clear that he must not touch it by saying a firm ‘no’ and find something else to focus on, for instance, ‘Ooh, look at the big lorry – what colour is that lorry?’
‘Toddlers have short concentration spans, so providing something interesting will generally stop feelings of disappointment or frustration,’ says Lynne.
You want him to: Lie quietly for a nappy change
Your baby wants to: Roll around, run off or wriggle out of your hands
Quick fix: Encourage your toddler to be involved in a nappy change by asking if he knows which bit’s coming next. For instance, say, ‘And now, what do we need? Can you guess? Yes, that’s right, a wipe.’
Feeling involved, rather than just having something done to him that interrupts play, will boost compliance and reduce the chance of all-out war.