Tantrums, frustrating as they are, are undeniably part and parcel of toddlerhood. We've all been there. We've seen the wailing child protesting the confines of the shopping cart. We've continued to cook dinner as the baby screams at our feet to be picked up. We've suffered the fury of a tiny demon whose goldfish cracker supply has run out. While there are many acceptable and effective ways to deal with your child's meltdown, there's a lot to be learned from how mindful parents respond to toddler tantrums.
I began my mindfulness practice at the beginning of the year, when my daughter was 7-months-old. It was something I did for myself, as a way to combat my anxiety. However, I quickly realized how helpful it was as a parenting philosophy, too. I loved that it wasn't so much about tranquility (yes, that's the goal but it's not a prerequisite, which is a good thing for moms of wee ones). Mindfulness is about paying attention. I first used it when my daughter had night-wakings. I found that when I breathed deeply, tuned into my surroundings, and focused on the feel of her skin under my hands, I was less agitated. My baby seemed to absorb my calm through osmosis, too, which was nothing short of helpful.
Now that I have a toddler on my hands, I'm using mindful parenting to manage meltdowns. I remind myself that it's about responding instead of reacting. I'm the first to admit I'm not always successful. Sometimes I ignore the tantrum so as not to reinforce that behavior. Other times, I have to walk away for everyone's well-being. I think as long as you don't give in to what your toddler is whining for, you're good to go. What I've found, however, is that using mindfulness to address tantrums, more than any other strategy, makes me feel better about myself as a mom.