When Louie, my eldest, was two I was in a cafe and he threw his first almighty tantrum! I stood completely thrown as he thrashed about on the floor screaming. I came home and read everything I could about how to deal with this behaviour. I tried various suggestions, some worked, others didn’t.
Drawn from these experiments these are my top five suggestions for what to do when tantrums strike.
1.Distract:”Look there’s a bird, flower, cloud, dinosaur”(ok there’s probably not going to be a dinosaur). Whatever interests your toddler that you can draw their attention to in that moment to get them to forget the urge to throw a strop.
2.Ignore: If distract isn’t working then the best thing to do is ignore the behaviour. If you’re at home and your child is safe, walk away. If I’m in public and my child is safe I usually just turn away. I honestly don’t care what other people think, after all they were once (probably) toddlers screaming and kicking on the floor themselves.
3.Stand your ground : Do not give in to the demands of the tantrum. For example if the tantrum was over sweets in a shop and the sweets get bought, guess what your little darling is going to do next time they want sweets.
4. Comfort: I find that when a tantrum reaches a certain point, and you will know when, because you know your child way better than I, I go in with a cuddle. My son at that point would gladly cuddle me and calm himself down.
5. Praise: When the child has calmed down praise them for calming down. When the child meets the same situation next time and doesn’t throw a tantrum, praise them for being so good.
Now I have to add that while being extremely effective these tips only work if you stay calm. On the occasions when I have used my other parenting technique of losing my cool and muttering expletives the response from both the children and onlookers, has not been as good.