Tantrums and toddlers are like peanut butter and jelly — but without the sweetness. Like it or not, your kid will throw fits no matter how you choose to parent them. Granted, some children are more prone to meltdowns than others, and there are ways to handle toddler tantrums that can lessen the duration and frequency of them. But, nonetheless, they're a part of toddler life. Learning how to talk to your toddler when they're mid-tantrum is a skill that every parent should have, regardless of whether tantrums are a rare occasion or happen every time you say "no."
In my own journey parenting a toddler (I say journey, because it makes it seem much less ambiguous and stress-inducing than it really is,) I've learned what does and doesn't work for my 3 and almost-2 year olds when it comes to taming the tantrums. I've learned that even though I usually want to throw a fit of my own, that generally backfires. I've also learned that toddlers are unstable creatures and that their tantrums need not make sense in my rational adult mind. My own experience aside though, the experts have a thing or two to say about parenting mid-melt down that's worth noting for future reference.
1. Remain Calm
Although there are many different reasons why a toddler may have a melt down, staying calm is one of your best tools for making them as short as possible. Kids Health noted that instead of getting frustrated along with your child (which is all too easy to do,) remaining calm during a tantrum will give your child a sense of security and allow them to calm down sooner.
2. Get On Their Level
PBS recommended that parents bend down to their child's level or even hold them during their fit. Calmly getting in their face, so to speak, teaches them that you're there for them and understand their frustration. It's usually much more effective than yelling for them to calm down from another room.
3. Give Them Choices
Even if your child can't have what they really want, you can offer them choices that they can have. Aha Parenting suggested that parents offer choices instead of giving in to what the child wants. Instead of saying "no" to their insistence on having ice cream for dinner, try offering them the choice of having ice cream after dinner or no ice cream at all. Choices will give your kid a sense of control over the situation.
4. Don't Try To Reason With Them
Toddler logic and adult logic are like night and day. If you try reasoning with your child when they're protesting, it will most likely backfire and the tantrum will only be prolonged. TIME magazine noted that empathizing with your toddler and realizing that they have their own "reality" that doesn't usually line up with yours can help you remain calm and respect that they might not understand where you're coming from.
5. Don't Talk To Them At All
Parents suggested simply ignoring your child during a tantrum. It seems cold and harsh, but for some kids, giving them attention during their fit will simply add fuel to the fire. Teaching them that you don't respond to them when they act that way will encourage them to (hopefully) lessen their tantrums in the future.