I’ll admit it. I sometimes have to hold back laughter when my toddler has a tantrum over ridiculous things, like the time she got upset because I wouldn’t let her shave her face with Daddy’s razor. I know, I’m so mean.
I admit I’ve even captured some of her tantrums on video or snapped a picture (see left), but I’m going to stop. And I urge all those viral mamas with their toddler tantrum videos out there to stop, too. Here’s why: They are really upset. And they really need you.
The other day, my girlie got upset because yogurt got on her chicken. I started laughing (her cry face is pretty cute), and she said, “No mommy laughing. Stop laughing.” I was hurting her feelings. I felt awful. I realized that no matter how silly the reason she’s upset, it’s up to me as her mom to take it seriously and provide some sort of distraction or fix. Don’t get me wrong: I will still probably laugh about some of the ridiculous outbursts with my husband, but…after my little lady is out of her funk. Each situation is of course different, but as a rule of thumb, here are the 5 Steps to Handle a Toddler Meltdown or Tantrum…NO CAMERAS ALLOWED!
Step 1: Identify the problem. Do your best to understand what’s crushing their little world. Now that my daughter can form sentences, it’s much easier to decipher the cause of her meltdowns. For those times I really have no idea, I ask her to point or show me. I can normally put the pieces together with a little mommy detective work.
Step 2: Fix it. If something is dirty—the reason my toddler mostly gets upset—clean it. If it can’t be fixed, i.e. like your child wanting to shave their face, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Distract them. Bring out the reserves: Do a silly dance, go to the other room and start a puzzle, get outside and play tag, etc. I sometimes bring Winnie the Pooh into the mix. I ask Winnie if he wants to play and then my daughter normally says she wants to play, too. Winnie has saved me during many tantrums.
Step 4: Give extra affection. Even though my daughter is approaching her 2nd birthday (WHAT?! How did that happen?), she still likes to sometimes be walked and bounced while I sing to her. She just sometimes needs a little extra love. I don’t mind. The extra affection can come right away, after you fix the problem, or after you distract them. It works every time.
Step 5: Reward good behavior profusely. After the meltdown is over and your child is acting like a little princess again, praise them! “You’re such a good girl for listening to mommy and not shaving your face.” “I’m so proud of you for eating your chicken.” And so forth.
All in all. Just remember: Stupid stuff upsets you sometimes, too. These little tykes are no different, so give ‘em some slack sometimes.
How do you handle a toddler meltdown or tantrum?