So she’s hit 2. Sorry for the radio silence but I’ve had a mixture of lack of time (by the time I’ve finished work and got Lily to bed, I’m mentally fried!) and also didn’t feel so motivated to write for a while.
But she’s now hit 2, and with that comes the inevitable duty of dealing with toddler tantrums. Pre-child, you’d see toddlers screaming in the street, and often assume they’re naughty kids. Now you just know that they’re 2, and there’s not much you can do about it.
It’s strange; 1 minute she can be her usual happy self, but then 10 seconds later she can flip into absolute meltdown over absolute nothing, then flip back again as though it never happened… and the world is great again!
90% of the time she is her usual happy, chirpy self, but then you get days that you think “my child is broken”!. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it, but there are a few ways I’ve learnt to deal with this sudden change of heart, so I thought I’d share a few of these with you.
It’s not that at this age they’re just being naughty for the sake of it. It’s usually frustration from the lack of communication ability, alongside a heavy dose of tiredness that sets them this way. So arguing back isn’t going to help, even if you do want to break down into tears yourself at the helplessness, or want the ground to swallow you up!
Most of the causes of tantrums cam be narrowed down to one of the following:
1. Overtiredness/lack of naps
3. Boredom/want attention (too long in car/pram?)
4. Feeling poorly
5. Teething (does it ever end?!)
6. Frustration through being unable to communicate
7. Inability to understand their emotions/ maybe overwhelmed
8. They really want ice cream for breakfast!!
So with these in mind, here we go…
Any more, please let me know!
If you can see something bubbling away, try and catch them pre-meltdown with a complete distraction. “Oh look, tractor!” Is a lifesaver for us, particularly useful living on a building site! Alternative games, tv shows, ‘helping mummy’ with laundry, or even just going upstairs for a change of scene can help on rainy days, or on sunny days (or rainy!) just get outside and explore. The fresh air can always help… as can running around somewhere new, heading to the park, or finding a few splashy puddles!!
Don’t say ‘no’
Where possible, try avoid saying ‘no’ (unless it’s a real danger to them). It not only winds them up more, but also encourages them to use that word more too against you! It also helps them to understand when “no” really means “no”!
The near meltdown at breakfast the other day when she was banging against the freezer for ice cream was quickly resolved by offering Weetabix. Ok, this isn’t a real swap for anyone, but when I told her to help me make it by getting her bowl and putting the weetabix in, she enjoyed it and wanted it after doing it herself. Today we managed the same with porridge instead… it can actually work!
Try and understand them
It’s not always easy, but trying to ask questions to find out what they want can often help break it down. She’s still learning to communicate so by breaking it down I often find out what she wants, such as if she gets frustrated then you realise she just wants to play the game a different way. This needs to be tried early on though as once the meltdown has hit, they often get even less clear and more flustered!!
I don’t mean all the time, but if something simple is going to cause a meltdown, such as teasing her with Peppa or hiding her blanket, then just give in if it really is going to cause trouble. I know giving in is an easy option but sometimes it just stops any problems before they kick off when she’s tired. The exception is ice cream for breakfast, as once you’ve done it once….
All parent’s go-to! I know you shouldn’t always do this, but a packet of puffcorn has saved many a day’s troubles. (Thanks again Organix!!) The pram is packed with snacks, especially for long journeys, but when we go for daytrips it’s usually useful to pack food you know theyll eat (sliced cucumber/cut grapes etc) so you know they’ll be able to eat something they enjoy, rather than searching the shops with a hungry baby or resorting to unhealthy snacks!
Offer a cuddle
If they’re in proper meltdown mode, there’s not always much you can do. Offering a cuddle (if they’ll let you) can often calm them down, especially at bedtime when the cause is just pure tiredness and that sense of security can often help them deal with their emotions a little better.
If you can remove them from the cause or avoid any possible cause of meltdowns (such as not having a balloon from the balloon man or taking a detour away from the swings/icecream van), then do so, and often it can be a quick resolution. The same with making sure you don’t go food shopping or to a quiet cafe when she really needs a nap.
I also find going to really busy places can cause her to get nervous/clingy or can get a bit overwhelmed, so for example at festivals we find a place away from the crowds so she can still safely run around while enjoying the music/activities.
Make them feel like a “big girl”
I find getting Lily to “help mummy” is a big lifesaver. Yesterday, for example, she would have had a meltdown if I’d packed away the paddling pool and told her to go inside. But by “helping me” pack the toys away, like a game, she was absolutely fine! Sometimes you need to go back and “unhelp” the mess she’s made “helping” (such as with her attempts at folding the laundry!) But if it has saved the initial meltdown then it is definitely a winner!
Drinking their drink from a child-safe mug, choosing the way to go on a long walk, or playing with things they think they shouldn’t (like safe kitchen utensils!) can often help, as can getting her to be a “big girl” by going to get mummy’s shoes or bag, can actually help us get out the door!
I’m the worst for getting restless at home and wanting to ‘make the most’ of days off together by getting out. But as much as Lily loves adventures, I’ve noticed a quiet morning at home with some stories is just what she needs sometimes. Doing too much can be tiring so resting up can help you both get some energy back for more adventures!
Ride it out
If they are safe and not going to harm themselves, then sometimes you’ve just got ignore it and let them ride it out. Talk as normally as possible to anyone else around, and once they’ve cried it out, they’re usually fine again!!
Don’t get me wrong – there are days I do want to burst into tears myself, feel completely helpless, or feel like the worst mum in the world, but I’ve found implementing some of the above ideas have really helped, and can support us with enjoying our adventures a little bit more.