When I get frustrated, I oftentimes end up scolding and make her sit in the corner. Somehow, it works. But I also don’t like the idea of raising my voice on her – but at that moment that’s the only thing I can do to stop her.
I told my husband about it and he said that she also does the same, but with him she behaves right away when told. With me, she thinks it’s a game that we both need to play along.
On Anatomy of a Meltdown
According to Robert Marvin, Ph.D., a professor of child psychiatry at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville:
By the time a child is 2, she is capable of experiencing a full range of emotions. But unlike an older child, a 2-year-old has only just begun to develop cognitive skills to make sense of those feelings — and to control them. That fact, coupled with a toddler’s limited attention span, results in what seems like a wildly fluctuating emotional seesaw.
So what am I supposed to do then? How do I handle the situation gently? Googled and found these helpful tips on parenting.com:
- Acknowledge that she’s frustrated. Your best first defense is to look your child in the eye and let her know you feel her pain. By saying “I know you want a cookie,” or even just “I know you’re upset,” you’re telling her you’re there to help her feel better. That might be enough to calm her down so you can add, “I wish we could have cookies, too. It’s too bad we can’t right now.” I actually did and told her she can have it when I’m done. But it didn’t work.
- Be silly. Laughter can be a great tantrum buster. If your child starts to pitch a fit about getting into the tub, try singing a goofy song — anything to make her giggle. Sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn’t.
- Try a distraction. Give her something else to think about. Try saying, “Let’s finish shopping by picking out bananas together.” Or if it’s time to leave the park, but she doesn’t want to, “How many dogs do you think we’ll see on the drive home?” I tried diverting her attention to Barney but I didn’t succeed.
- Ignore it. Sometimes, tantrums escalate because your toddler thinks she’ll get what she wants if she screams loud enough. If you don’t react, she may give up. I kept quiet for a while hoping that she would stop, but she yelled more with anger.
- Leave the scene. When all else fails, get out of line, off the slide, whatever. But do it without making a fuss — you’ll be modeling calm behavior. It may be inconvenient, but it shows who’s in control: you. I continued vacuuming the place as if I don’t hear her scream but she continued.
- Offer options. When toddlers feel overwhelmed, they need your help, but they still want to have a say in things. That’s why offering two options (more is just confusing) can prevent a meltdown. Try saying, “Would you like to see the polar bears or the monkeys?” instead of “Which animal do you want to see first at the zoo?” I gave the carpet brush thinking she might follow and mimic me but she insisted on getting the vacuum cleaner.
- Give fair warning. If you have to tear your child away from something fun or drag him somewhere he’ll hate, preparation can nip frustration in the bud. Say, “We’re going to go home after one more trip down the slide.” Little kids are more likely to behave if they know ahead of time what they can and can’t do. Took her to the bedroom hoping she’d settle down if she sees her favorite toys but it was still a no!
- Show your child how you want him to act. Since one reason kids scream is that they don’t know what else to do, teach your child to use words to express himself. Good ones to start with: “Can you help me?” and “Excuse me.” The more specific you can be with your own requests, the better. Telling your child you want him to “be good” isn’t really informative. Instead, tell him you want him to ask for things in a quiet voice. I told her not to do it again. And say please if she wants something. Asked her “do you understand?” She then nodded at me.
As soon as I have done vacuuming the house, I gave her what she wanted but then she said “mop” (enough).