Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Control- Alt- Delete....How to Survive Toddler Tantrums

So here I am, another day in mommyland. Things seem to be getting more and more interesting by the day(or should I say more and more challenging). Most people I know, with the exception of my mother and sister, would say I have a decent level of patience when faced with adversity and challenge. I mention this because with each passing day, I am convinced that Chickpea over hears my morning prayer that I be granted the ability to have more patience today than I had the day before. I can visualize Chickpea in her crib, holding her beloved Sonoma (her stuffed sheep toy) strategizing as to how she is going to take it up a notch today, to test her mother's patience level.

It seems that tantrums and meltdowns have become a normal occurrence throughout the day with Chickpea. I guess it is fair to say that at 22 months of age, Chickpea, has officially entered the "Terrible Two's", which I have been kindly informed don't back off until about age 4. All I can say is,"Please pray for me and other moms like me".

So I was running errands yesterday with Chickpea. You know the usual stuff, grocery store, dry-cleaning, etc. There I was in Whole Foods, and Chickpea started with her sweet little voice "up, mommy, up, pleeeeaaase", which basically meant that she wanted out of the grocery cart. Having been down this road before, I knew there was little to no chance Chickpea was getting out of that grocery cart (because getting her back in would be like trying to cage a wild animal). With all this being said, and Chickpea realizing that she was not getting out of the grocery cart, the rest of this situation played out like the final scene of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". And the meltdown followed.

As Chickpea began one of her more epic meltdowns, I started to think. When I am working on my computer, and it decides it is going to have a major malfunction, all I have to do is hit Control-Alt-Delete, and problem averted. So what I want to know is, where is the @$#*ing Control-Alt-Delete button on toddlers? Realizing that this would make parenting too easy, here are some more practical and effective approaches to handling toddler tantrums and meltdowns (Thanks for some great tips).

1. Keep your cool and deal with the tantrum as calmly as possible. Remember, you are your child's role model for handling anger. Though it may be tempting to yell at or lecture your child, you should state your position calmly, and make it short and to the point.

2. Walk away from her when she's having an outburst. If you don't feel comfortable leaving the scene, stay nearby, but keep busy. Don't make eye contact or start arguing with your child. If she sees her tantrum isn't having an effect on you, she'll most likely stop.

3. When your child is having a public tantrum, pick her up and carry her calmly to a safe place. Take her to your car or a public bathroom, where she can blow off steam. Be careful not to overreact or lash out at your child because you're embarrassed. Once you're in a quieter place, calmly explain your position, and try to ignore the tantrum until it stops. Sometimes just touching or stroking a child will soothe her. If your child continues to scream, place her securely in her car seat and head for home.

4. Talk in soothing tones. If your child throws a tantrum in a place that you just can't leave (like an airplane), talk to her in a quiet tone. If it helps to keep you calm, repeat the same phrase over and over. ("God I need a cocktail, God I need a cocktail" usually helps for me)

5. Don't try to reason with a child who's having a tantrum. They are so emotionally out of control that this won't work. While every parent tries to prevent tantrums, there will be times when little ones simply lose their cool. When this happens to your child, there's not much you can do, they simply have to vent.

6. Use humor or distraction to draw your child out of a tantrum. Make a funny face or point out something interesting to take your child's attention away from the source of frustration.

7. In some cases, give in to the tantrum (within reason). Sometimes this is a smart strategy,although bribery ("I'll give you some ice cream if you stop crying") should never be an option. Although, if you want to have a peaceful car ride, you might give in to your child's request to hear the same CD over and over again.

8. Don't ignore aggressive actions. If your child is behaving aggressively during a tantrum (kicking, hitting, biting, throwing, or breaking things)take action. If possible, remove your child from the source of her anger, and hold him or give her some time alone to calm down and regain control. For children old enough to understand, a time-out may be effective.

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