My third baby is almost 18 months old and has already started having tantrums. I remember this time with my older two. They literally go from being a sweet cuddly baby to throwing fits over night and you try to figure out what went wrong, but here is the truth: it is developmental. All kids go through it and it is part of how they learn. They are not good at controlling their emotions at this age and throwing fits is part of how they communicate to you. The good news is that you are not alone, and there are a few things you can do to help avoid tantrums and diffuse them in the moment.
How to handle tantrums in a positive way:
ONE. Remove them from the situation. Hampton was very close to throwing a screaming fit at one of his t-ball games one day. He was tired and was just not having it. He was crying and I could see it all over his face that it was about to happen. So, I grabbed his hand and took him to the bathroom to calm down. It worked almost immediately. Sometimes a new environment or in this case lots of screaming parents can make a child react this way. It is always good to remove them from the situation so that they feel more comfortable with their surroundings.
TWO. Hold them, comfort them, love on them. Sometimes they may just want your attention. This may help them calm down. Other times, hold them so that they don’t hurt themselves. Weston has a thing about throwing his head all over the place when he pitches a fit. I normally pick him up and hold him through it so he doesn’t hurt himself or bump his head on the floor. These tantrums can be dangerous and lead to injuries, so it’s important to hold them and try to prevent any accidents.
THREE. Have they had a nap? Have they eaten or had something to drink recently? Just like adults, toddlers can get hangry, too. Pack lots of snacks and keep them with you at all times. I also like to keep a water bottle with me for myself and the kids if they are thirsty. Also, don’t take your kids out during their nap time. That is literally asking for it. I’ve done it many times and have regretted it every time. They need to sleep more than you need to go to Target. Well, most of the time, anyway.
FOUR. Punish them appropriately. If they are worked up over something, time-out is a great solution because it gives them time to calm down. It is important to explain to them why they are being punished so that they don’t get confused. Get on their level, keep eye contact, and tell them they are having to sit in time-out for 2 minutes because they threw their food at you (or whatever they did). I’ve also found that as my kids get older, taking things and privileges away works much better than time-out. It is more effective depending on what they did to be punished. The key is always telling them (maybe even more than once) why they are being punished and give them examples of how they should have reacted, instead. This is how they learn. Punishment should always be about learning, guidance and teaching them and never out of anger. It is hard sometimes, but it is important to remain calm and use these situations as a learning experience.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any other parenting post suggestions or questions you would like me to answer, please let me know in the comments or via email!