This is one of those times that working with preschool aged children who have special needs has come in especially handy when it comes to raising my daughter. Not that she has special needs, but now that she is going on preschool age (wah!) she has her own ideas, opinions and plans. When I ask her to do something that she feels is not important or doesn’t fit into her plan, we sometimes have an issue. Luckily, for me 5 years of working with stubborn little kiddos all day long has allowed me to have a few tricks up my sleeve for when emotions are running high at home.
Here are my 5 steps to stopping my toddler’s tantrums (in a nutshell). It doesn’t work every time, but I’d say 9/10 times it does the trick.
- Validate what she is doing. Making her feel like her activities are important helps her understand that my activities are important too.
- Warn her that there is a transition coming. I usually give a “2” minute warning. We love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. There is a song with lyrics ‘It’s almost time to stop, so pick one more thing to do…. that was fun but now it’s done!”. We use this song quite a bit during transitions. She understands what it means and she likes that she can choose another quick game or book before leaving.
- Remind myself that she isn’t going to guess my expectations. If I walk in and blindside her with a simple “Ok let’s go”, I can’t blame her for being upset or throwing a tantrum. She has no idea what’s going on or what I am expecting from her. Most adults request an explanation when they are asked to do something. We don’t just blindly follow directions that we don’t understand. Why should we expect a child to?
- Allow her time to process and ask questions. If she has questions about what is happening or where we are going I want her to ask them. I want her to understand what is going on around her.
- Give closed choices if she is still hesitant or resistant. When all of the above fails and she still doesn’t want to stop what she is doing or listen to what I want her to do I give her closed choices. Both options are things I want her to do so its a win-win and she feels like she is making her own decisions.
These 5 things may take 1 minute or 10 minutes, but they can truly make the difference when it comes to my toddlers compliance.
Do you have any other ways to help prevent toddler tantrums?