Tips to Calm a Toddler BEFORE a Tantrum
*This post is sponsored by Caruso's and Kids Business
If you've reached this page by searching "tips to calm a toddler", then the chances are that toddler tantrums are well and truly a part of your day. Toddler tantrums are a part of parenting that are unavoidable. They will happen, they will happen frequently and they often happen at the most inconvenient times! I'm sure we've all been in a packed grocery store with a screaming 2 year old - I've abandoned trolleys and left the store more than once! Toddler tantrums are part of normal development and it will happen no matter how great your parenting is. A tantruming toddler is not a reflection of your parenting - it's just life with a 2 or 3 year old!
I've dealt with the toddler phase twice now and while there are some great tips for handling a tantrum, in this post I'll be sharing my tips to calm a toddler BEFORE their behaviour evolves into a tantrum.
I always remember reading this quote from Dr. Sears, "Normal tantrums are a result of your child’s development and temperament, not your parenting". It's a simple quote, but one that's worth remembering. That being said, we obviously want to do the best we can to minimise toddler tantrums.
Often we can see the triggers in our children, the signs that let us know a tantrum or a meltdown is not far away, and this is the best chance to react. Triggers are different in all children and you will recognise them better than anyone else. One of my daughters couldn't handle strangers coming to close to her so we would preempt that by warning new visitors that they need to give her some space and let her get used to them first. My youngest daughter didn't do well in the car so we were very prepared for each car trip. While each child will have their own tantrum triggers there are some that are quite common.
Common Toddler Tantrum Triggers
- Hunger - both of my daughters needed frequent small meals and being hungry was one of their main triggers. We dealt with this by always having snacks on hand, and keeping track of the time between meals and snacks.
- Tiredness - this one is rather obvious, but the problem with tiredness is that you need to catch it before they get too tired which is obviously difficult! Being aware of your toddlers tiredness signs and beginning a calming routine can definitely help avoid a tired tantrum.
- Anxiety - this often occurs when a stranger or someone other than the primary care giver is interacting with them, or when mum or dad are leaving.
- Over-stimulation - this was a huge trigger with my eldest daughter and one that was really hard for other people to understand. Often people would try to entertain her to cheer her up when what she really needed was a quite dark space.
Tips to Calm a Toddler
It is definitely preferable to avoid a tantrum than to deal with one, so I try my best to step in before one happens and I have a range of calming techniques up my sleeve.
1. Time Out the Tantrum
I love this phrase and it's another one from Dr. Sears. This does not mean put your toddler in time out, rather take your toddler to a calm environment to help them deal with their emotions. If over stimulation is the trigger then move them to a calm room. If you're at home, a quiet corner where you can read often helps. If you're out and about, go outside the store or restaurant, find a park or a quiet place, basically remove your child from the stressful situation before the tantrum occurs. I can't tell you how many times I had to leave events to find a quite location to walk my daughter around, or how often we would sit in her room with the lights low and calming music playing.
2. Distract your toddler
If you can see the triggers building up then react quickly with distraction. I strongly believe that distraction is one of the best techniques for calming a toddler who is about to have a tantrum (and even one that is having one). Often this is as simple as pointing to pretty flower or a passing fire truck, but often this needs to be an actual activity.
Some of the activities that I've found that work the best are reading a book, playing with a sensory bottle (you can see how easy they are to make here) or any form of sensory play such as playdough or coloured rice. Your child will often decline to do these activities, but if you start doing them yourself they will often join in. It's amazing how quickly a toddler will come over to you if you start reading one of their favourite story books out loud.
3. Encourage Deep Breathing
I have to thank the folks at Sesame Street for this one. They have a great video that your child can watch and sing along with which encourages them to breath and relax. It's super catchy too! I have it saved on my phone for when we're out and about and now can use the words 'belly breathe' and they know what I mean.
4. Focus on their diet
Food definitely plays a role in behaviour, and it's no surprise that health professionals recommend a healthy, balanced diet and limited sugar intake. You'll see in your own child the foods that will trigger their behaviour and often it's not until you reflect back on the day that you can see the link between a certain food or drink they consumed to their behaviour.
5. Explore complimentary supplements
Getting a fussy toddler to eat what you want them to is not always easy, so we've recently started using Caruso's Natural Health Kids Calm & Behaviour powder each morning as well. We mix it in with some water or milk and they don't even notice it! One of the key ingredients in Caruso's Natural Health Kids Calm & Behaviour is magnesium which is known to have a calming affect, and also helps with sleeplessness, irritability and agitation. After using this product in addition to a balanced and healthy diet I have definitely noticed a positive change in behaviour.
Caruso's Natural Health is an Australian family owned company and you can find their range of children's products in most pharmacies and health food stores in Australia or online at www.carusosnaturalhealth.com.au
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