Can you reason with a 2-year-old?

8 hacks for avoiding tantrums

8 hacks for avoiding tantrums

If you are the parent of a toddler, you have likely cringed at the earth-shattering meltdowns that make the “terrible twos” well, terrible.

Your child’s developmental stage creates the perfect storm for misbehavior and temper tantrums. Her brain is programmed to explore the world with her senses and find relationships between things. As she learns new skills such as talking, throwing and moving about, she is eager to put them to use.

While you can’t expect your youngster to comprehend right and wrong behavior at this age, she is learning through trial and error. The following tips and tactics will help you curb your toddler’s misbehavior in a way that is sensitive to her stage of development:

  1. Be affirmative. Constant punishment can mislead a toddler into thinking all of her behavior is bad. Tell your little one when she is doing the right thing and she will get a clearer idea of what good behavior looks like.
  2. Be consistent. If you tell your toddler that he will have a timeout after misbehaving, then make sure to follow through on the punishment. Empty threats will teach your toddler that he can get away with things. Be a role model by following your own rules on how to behave too.
  3. Give your child control over little things. Offer little choices to your toddler so her need for independence is fulfilled. Be sure they are things you can live with, such as a choice between an apple or a banana with lunch.
  4. Know your child’s limits. If you know your youngster is tired, it is not the best time to take him on an errand with you. He will inevitably communicate he is tired by having a meltdown.
  5. Accommodate when you can. If your child wants something that isn’t outrageous, consider giving it to her. Choose your battles.
  6. Use distraction. Instead of telling your child “no” when he is doing the wrong behavior, encourage him to engage in another behavior. For example, instead of yelling “Stop hitting your toy on the ground,” say “Instead of hitting your toy on the ground, how about you color for a little bit.” Yelling — in addition to spanking, hitting or slapping — teaches your child that screaming and hitting someone is OK when you’re angry. These forms of discipline can lead to serious behavioral issues later in life and can escalate to child abuse.
  7. Practice timeout. Short timeouts are a good way to get your child to calm down. It is recommended to have one minute of timeout per year of age. Longer timeouts have no added benefit. Be sure to explain why the behavior is unacceptable and why you are giving your child a timeout.
  8. Keep your cool. Toddlers get just as frustrated as you, but often do not understand the issue at hand. If your temper escalates, your child will sense that you are frazzled and the outburst may get worse.

Remember that your child’s language and social skills are constantly developing, and soon they will be better at handling their frustration. For now, understand that they are not able to reason like adults, and handling misbehavior with care and discipline will result in fewer tantrums and more time for fun.


Learn more ways to communicate with your toddler at our Parent Talk: Communication and Discipline class on April 15. Register at NortonHealthCare.com/LetsTalk.


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