THE IM­POR­TANCE OF PLAY AND PLAY MILESTONES

EIGHT THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT

Your Baby & Toddler - - Front Page - BY TORI HOFFMANN

Melt­downs are a reg­u­lar part of tod­dler life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be dealt with. Here are our top eight tips for deal­ing with a tod­dler frothy.

1. IG­NORE THEM, AND THEY SHOULD GO AWAY

Why carry on per­form­ing if no one’s watch­ing, right? The same can be said of tod­dler tantrums that, ac­cord­ing to baby ex­pert and au­thor of Tod­dler Sense Ann Richard­son, should be ig­nored. “By ig­nor­ing the tantrum, you’re giv­ing your tod­dler the mes­sage that his be­hav­iour doesn’t af­fect you, and he’ll most likely stop. Rather fo­cus on the rea­son for the tantrum in the first place and if his wil­ful be­hav­iour per­sists, then sim­ply re­move him calmly from the scene of the crime,” she main­tains.

2. TIME OUT WORKS

Avoid send­ing your tod­dler to the bath­room as the naughty corner if he’s hav­ing a tantrum as “these ar­eas may make him feel em­bar­rassed, un­com­fort­able and in­se­cure,” says Ann. How­ever, a time out – where a tod­dler is tem­po­rar­ily re­moved from the sit­u­a­tion – is a use­ful tool for a tod­dler from two years of age who uses a tantrum to openly defy your au­thor­ity or dis­plays a be­hav­iour that he knows is not ac­cept­able. “Wait un­til he can un­der­stand that rules need to be fol­lowed, so that he’ll un­der­stand why time out is hap­pen­ing,” she cau­tions. “Time out must not be seen as pun­ish­ment. It should rather be seen as an op­por­tu­nity to teach your tod­dler how to cope with his feel­ings of frus­tra­tion and anger. Once he has learnt how to cope with these feel­ings, he’ll be able to start to mod­ify his be­hav­iour.”

3. REA­SON­ING IS FU­TILE

“When your child reaches tantrum mode, he’s not hear­ing a thing. This is why your ac­tions (turn­ing your back or sim­ply ig­nor­ing him) speak vol­umes and are much louder than words,” ex­plains Ann. When he’s in the throes of a tantrum, don’t plead, beg or ne­go­ti­ate with your child – it’ll only give him the mes­sage

that you’re anx­ious and not in con­trol. Rather give him a time out or al­low the melt­down a few min­utes to play it­self out, and then of­fer all sorts of com­fort and love. Dis­cuss the is­sue af­ter­wards when ev­ery­one is calm. “Al­ways re­mem­ber to re­ward pos­i­tive be­hav­iour too,” she ad­vises.

4. THERE’S MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF TANTRUM

While a tantrum gen­er­ally fol­lows the same pat­tern – shout­ing and scream­ing, throw­ing of ob­jects, whin­ing and cry­ing – there are three dif­fer­ent types of tantrums that you can ex­pect your tod­dler to throw. The “at­ten­tion tantrum” is the most com­mon type, says Ann, where your tod­dler mis­be­haves in or­der to get your at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially if you’re busy do­ing some­thing that doesn’t in­volve him get­ting that at­ten­tion. “Tan­gi­ble tantrums,” Ann points out, oc­cur when a toy is taken away from your child or when treats are re­fused. And lastly, “com­mand avoid­ance tantrums” erupt when your clever lit­tle tot tries to get out of do­ing some­thing that he doesn’t want to do, like get­ting into his car seat or putting his shoes on.

5. TANTRUMS ARE NOR­MAL, NOT NAUGHTY

Tantrums are a nor­mal part of a tod­dler’s psy­che and a nec­es­sary and healthy (al­beit dif­fi­cult) part of grow­ing up. “It’s how you and your child’s care­givers re­spond to the tantrum that sets the way for­ward to­wards your child re­al­is­ing that what he’s do­ing is wrong,” ex­plains Ann. She also points out that tod­dlers have a low level of frus­tra­tion and their tem­pers are eas­ily trig­gered when things don’t go ac­cord­ing to plan. “In younger tod­dlers un­der the age of three, most tantrums are trig­gered by frus­tra­tion with their in­abil­ity to per­form cer­tain tasks, such as putting on their own shoes. This is when a help­ing hand from you, and not pun­ish­ment, is all that is needed, and the tantrum soon abates.”

6. TANTRUMS CAN SOME­TIMES BE AVOIDED

We’re all a bit tired and cranky at the end of the day and this is some­thing you should bear in mind when you quickly nip to the shops af­ter work with your hun­gry, over­stim­u­lated tod­dler. When he spots the sweets in the queu­ing aisle, can you re­ally blame him for hav­ing a mini melt­down when you tell him he can’t have them? For­tu­nately, this is eas­ily avoided. “Mo­du­late your child’s stim­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment or re­move him from it if you see any signs of over­load,” says Ann. Other ways to avoid tantrums would be to watch awake times, be con­sis­tent in your rou­tines, avoid hunger, pre­vent a sit­u­a­tion of frus­tra­tion from aris­ing, of­fer him choices when­ever pos­si­ble and pick your bat­tles, she says. Af­ter all, it isn’t re­ally the end of the world if your tod­dler goes out with his T-shirt on back­wards, so leave him be.

7. IT’S AC­TU­ALLY OKAY TO CAVE UN­DER CER­TAIN CIR­CUM­STANCES

Ann doesn’t feel that any par­ent should ever give in to a tantrum – by do­ing so, you’ll only re­in­force the neg­a­tive or bad be­hav­iour and teach your child that all she needs to do is have a “frothy” in or­der to get what he wants. How­ever, she says that it is in­deed okay to cave if the tantrum is caus­ing dys­func­tion in the en­vi­ron­ment. For ex­am­ple, if your tot is mak­ing an un­due scene at a restau­rant and caus­ing dis­com­fort.

8. SMACKING DOESN’T SOLVE ANY­THING

Giv­ing your child a smack when he’s in the throes of an emo­tional out­burst re­ally is a bit like kick­ing a dog when it’s down. “All smacking does is teach your child that vi­o­lence and ag­gres­sion are ap­pro­pri­ate and ac­cept­able ways to gain con­trol,” stresses Ann. It also re­in­forces neg­a­tive be­hav­iour by giv­ing your child at­ten­tion. If you are tempted to smack rather take a deep breath and walk away. YB

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