How do I handle temper tantrums?
You asked and you shall now receive (day #3). It’s only fair for us to share all of this stored up knowledge about a toddlers and what happens when they start toddling (and talking)! We now will answer, in a very public forum, all of those burning questions about children in their second year. Each Wednesday, we will tackle a commonly-asked-question from the point of view of a parent with a toddler. Chiming in to give her feedback will be three women who have been there and done that: an expert (you know someone who does this for a living), a mom from our community (for the “best” friend advice you need) and a babybites’ team member (someone who will promise to give you the REAL deal and no fluff). Earmark, share and add your own input to today’s question; it’s good karma.
How do I handle temper tantrums?
Expert: Marsha Greenberg
There is no magic bullet for handling temper tantrums. These are complicated, intense, and often frustrating moments for parents that usually happen at inopportune times. A toddlers cognitive development and their temperament play a role in helping them soothe and accept either your limits or accept their own limited skill in trying to do something on their own. Your Emotions also play a role so trying to contain some of your own anger or distress is going to be important to be aware of.
In the middle of a temper tantrum a child is psychologically not able to be rational so try to help your toddler get to a safe place so he does not hurt himself, wait it out whenever you can- stay close- sit in close proximity quietly and check in every few minutes-”do you want me to hold you now?” If they say no- keep waiting and try again. When they are calm let another 10 minutes go by and then try to talk about whatever happened. Try to be preventative-keep toddler environment friendly-too many limits sets off frustrations, try to have 20 minutes a day when toddlers can lead the play. Act out some of your toddler’s challenges with toys- have little truck tell big truck he wants to do everything himself- and then have little truck spin out of control and big truck stand close. Let your toddler weigh in and offer suggestions for helping little truck.
Last but not least Pick your Battles. You all have limited time, energy and resources so work with what you have and what you think your toddler needs most.
Mom: Leslie Blaustein
The first thing I do when there is a temper tantrum is breathe! Then breathe again! I try not to get hysterical because your child picks up on this and the bad behavior escalates! I usually count to three aloud- sometimes, 1… 2… 21/2… & 3! Finally if they have not stopped their temper tantrum, I make a consequence. If we are in a public place and I cannot sit him somewhere to calm down, I will pick him up under my arm and carry him away. If his behavior does not end, I may take his favorite toy away for a day, or take away a bedtime story. The most important bit of advice… keep calm (mommy) and carry on- despite the dirty looks you are getting from the passers by!!!!
babybites’ team: Heather Ouida
As hard as this is, I think the best way to deal with tantrums is to try to be as non-reactive as possible. Hal Runkle, founder of Scream Free Parenting talks a lot about this and it really worked for my husband and me. So when our younger son had tantrums we tried to calmly pick him up, remove him from the room/situation and tell him when he calmed down we would be there to help him. As annoying and embarrassing as tantrums are, we tried to will ourselves not be angry about the tantrum. Our son quickly realized that without an audience, tantrums were just not that productive for him!
About our team:
Marsha Greenberg M.S., M.S. W
Marsha is a therapist in New York City. She is the author of the newly released book, Raising Your Toddler, by Globe Pequot Press. She has masters degrees in Child and Family Development and Social Work from the University of Michigan. As the Director of the Health Systems Child Care Program for over 14 years, she was responsible for over 250 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years of age. Marsha teaches in the Early Childhood Special Education department at NYU and has a private psychotherapy practice in NYC. Marsha is the mother of three grown sons and has three grandsons (aged 4 and 18 months and 4 months) with a new grandchild on the way.
Leslie is a tutor focusing on helping children develop a love for learning. She offers Tutoring/Remediation/ ERB Prep – for all academic subjects. Leslie brings a creative approach to reading, math, and writing! She has a masters in Early Childhood Education; Public and Private school experience; Children Preschool through Grade Six. Leslie is also a mom to Josh, 3 1/2.
Heather co-owns babybites with business partner Laura Deutsch. She is responsible for managing, growing and overseeing babybites nationally as well their flagship city of Manhattan. Heather’s favorite parts of her job include hosting “Mommybites Live” an educational talk show with parenting luminaries, writing her blog which varies between sappy, educational and downright snarky, interviewing parenting experts for babybites’ regular tele-class series and facilitating some of the Manhattan working moms support groups. Prior to co-founding babybites, Heather was a learning specialist where she taught in London for many years as well as at The Dalton School in Manhattan. Heather holds a BA in psychology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, an MA in child development form Tufts University and acquired her learning specialist degree form York University in England. Heather currently resides in Manhattan her husband, two boys, two fish and pet turtle. Heather’s hobbies include, hot yoga, Nutella eating, writing, Bravo watching, reading and sharing inappropriate jokes with girl friends. To learn more about Heather’s mission to support follow-moms in non-judgmental ways please click here.