Prevention is better than cure!
If there’s one thing a parent dreads more than anything else is their little one having a full blown tantrum in a public place! My one son did the tantrum dance once whilst we were out shopping for groceries. He was about 4 years old and his brother was 2 years old at the time. I had promised them that if they behaved whilst we were shopping then I would buy them each an ice cream (blatant bribery, I know! But what else to do when you know you have a very strong-willed little person with you?). Anyway, needless to say, the shopping did not go smoothly, the eldest was behaving horribly and the shopping trip was cut short. But….my youngest HAD behaved impeccably so I had to honour my promise to him. I took the time to explain to my eldest that as he had not behaved he would not be getting an ice cream. To no avail – I could have saved my breath. The ensuing tantrum was a sight to behold!!! I had to virtually drag him to the car, but you know what? He never had another tantrum after that. So by my standing firm, my son (always a fast learner!) learnt that having a tantrum was not the way to go and that was the last time he had a really full blown meltdown, thankfully!
That being said, prevention is much better than cure and so, without further ado, here are 4 tips on how to prevent tantrums that may just help some other poor mum out there!
1: Count Down to prevent Meltdowns!
Make it clear to your little one about how much time is left for a particular activity he is engaged in. The use of a colourful count down timer can turn this into a game and if you also give warnings ahead of time it should make it easier for your child to break away from his activity and transition to the next (like bath time, for instance!).
2: Planning your day
Try to make a simple schedule for your day and inform your child as to how the day is going to evolve. Then you have to try to stick to that schedule (or risk a tantrum if you deviate!!). Having a structure to the day and also some form of consistency is probably a good idea. Of course, life does not always follow the plan and you may have to suddenly alter your carefully thought out schedule for the day and then just bear with the consequences. There is hope, however as the older your toddler gets, the better they will understand should something crop up that interferes with the aforementioned schedule and they will be able to cope without the tantrum.
3: Transition object
Make wise use of a transition object – in other words, allow your kiddo to take a toy with them, perhaps – I know of a playschool that by sheer chance had a small kiddies trampoline in the hallway on the way out of the school and whenever the little ones were objecting to going home, as they passed the trampoline, they could jump on it for a bit and this turned tantrum mopes into smiley faces! Perhaps it’s all in the art of distraction or in doing something totally different to just walking straight out the door but it seems to do the trick!
4: The Rush Job
One should always give lots of extra time for little ones to make the transition from one activity to another, especially if the next activity doesn’t really appeal to the child. One moment he or she is happily playing and the next is expected to get into the bath – this generally does not go down well with them and may initiate a temper tantrum of note! So try not to demand a “rush job” – ever, if you can possibly avoid it!
Looking back, I think that I could have avoided the tantrum of my son regarding the ice cream. I should never have resorted to the bribery in the first place and I could have taken one of his favourite toys with us to the shops to distract him when he started to run around. Hindsight is truly awesome!
I hope that the above 4 tips will help one or two moms out there to avoid most of the meltdowns, but if not – take heart – tantrums are a normal part of a child growing up and learning how to handle situations. Should a meltdown occur, whether at home or when out in public, it is wise to try to cope with it in as calm a manner as you are capable of (even if inwardly you are tearing your hair out!). One of the key things to remember is to be consistent in however you choose to handle a tantrum.