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October 28th, 2023
By Faith McNamara

Navigating the Storm: A Guide to Managing Toddler Tantrums

Having a toddler can come with many great benefits; it’s when you start to see your child’s personality and start to have conversations with them. However, as your baby becomes a toddler they grow and develop physically, mentally and lastly, emotionally.

Toddler tantrums are something many parents fear. It can be one of the most challenging times, especially for new parents. Screaming, crying and rolling around can happen at, what feels like, completely random moments. This leaves many parents feeling overstimulated, overwhelmed, and overall, frustrated.

Learning to navigate this difficult period may seem impossible, but it can be done. One of the biggest learning curves is remaining calm even when all you want to do is flail about on the floor and scream just like your two-year-old. In this article, we will explore different ways to deal with toddler tantrums and show how a professional nanny can help.

Why do toddlers have tantrums?

A big change takes place when a baby develops into a toddler. They got from being completely dependent on their parents to have the ability to move, communicate and more importantly feel things more than hungry and tired. But with this comes a time of not properly being able to express themselves. Remember being a teenager and thinking “My parents just don’t get it”, well it's that but much more intense.

Toddlers cannot yet verbalise their wants and needs and so not having these ideas met leads them straight to frustration and anger. Frustration and anger are what fuels a toddler's tantrum, they can stem from a situation we see as completely arbitrary but to them, it is the worst possible thing to happen ever. A parent's immediate reaction is to tell them off, especially when in public, but this can only exacerbate the situation and make it worse.

With all this anger and frustration add a lack of self-control and lack of impulse control and you have a little angry, screaming monster. Toddlers have not yet developed these regulation skills and so their emotions become overwhelming and so they resort to having a tantrum as a way to express how they are feeling. They act out for attention as they are in distress and need a parent to regulate their emotions for them and offer unbridled support. As parents, it can be a very intense and frustrating experience as their behaviour feels out of control, but it’s perfectly normal for every toddler.

10 Steps to help combat Toddler Tantrums

We know that dealing with toddler tantrums can be extremely difficult and so Little Ones, after consulting numerous parents and nannies, has come up with a 10-step programme that can help struggling parents and nannies navigate these high-intensity situations.

1. Stay calm: Though it can be extremely difficult to keep your cool the best course of action when dealing with a tantrum is to remain as calm as possible. This immediately grounds your child and stops them from spiralling further.

2. Identify the cause: To stop a tantrum, or start the cool-down period, you must try to find the root cause of what is upsetting them. Is it hunger? Have they lost something valuable? Do they need a nap? By identifying the issue you can try and resolve it stopping the tantrum in its tracks.

3. Set clear limits and boundaries: To prevent tantrums from constantly happening or from becoming too violent you must set clear boundaries. For example, if a toddler has a tantrum in public, immediately take them outside to try and resolve it. If it continues, then the consequence is to return home. This allows children the time to express themselves whilst also learning about the consequences of bad behaviour.

4. Offer choices: Most of the time toddlers act out when feeling out of control. By offering them choice they can foster a sense of independence and feel like they have autonomy. This can be as simple as asking which colour shoes they would prefer to wear.

5. Distract and redirect: A great way to deflect away from a tantrum is to distract them with something else. Whether that be food, a toy or an activity. Toddlers rarely have the attention span to hold onto ideas for too long so distraction is a great technique.

6. Validate feelings: There’s nothing worse than being upset and not having anyone care. It’s the same with toddlers. Acknowledge how they’re feeling and talk them through why it’s okay to feel that way and then teach them how to navigate through it and come out feeling better.

7. Time-outs: Time-outs are not necessarily a punishment. Allowing a toddler space in a peaceful environment to help them self-soothe can have many benefits. It also gives the parent space to work on their own emotions of dealing with an angry toddler.

8. Consistency: : In a time of great change for a toddler, consistency is key. Parents need to stick to the same rules and strategies each time so that they can start to recognise how to deal with emotions and lessen their tantrums.

9. Stay positive: It’s much easier to reward than punish. Positive reinforcement is a great way to get your toddler to understand when they are behaving well and doing good things. Rewarding them with praise and warm words when they are being good can prevent tantrums in the future.

10. Take care of yourself: Remember to take time for yourself. Dealing with an unhappy, screaming child will drain you over time. It is important to take care of your own mental health and take well-earned breaks where possible.

How a Nanny can help

Parenting can be challenging, especially when it comes to dealing with toddler tantrums. A nanny can provide critical support during this time of uncertainty for both the child and the parents. Toddler tantrums are a common occurrence in the lives of many parents, and they can be frustrating to deal with. However, a nanny can help parents in managing these tantrums and provide support to the family.

A nanny needs to remain neutral and objective when observing a child's behaviour. While personal opinions and subjective views can sometimes cloud one's judgment, a nanny should strive to maintain a neutral stance and focus on the behaviour of the child, without interpreting it as good or bad.

This allows the nanny to accurately assess the child's behaviour and respond in a manner that is in line with the child's best interests. Every child is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. By being objective and neutral, a nanny can provide an accurate assessment of the child's behaviour and support the parents in their efforts to manage it.

A nanny can provide support to the parents by taking care of the toddler during times when the parents need a break. By offering to take over for short periods, the nanny can give the parents time to recharge and come back refreshed to deal with the challenges of parenting.

They can play a crucial role in helping parents with toddler tantrums by providing support, identifying triggers, using positive reinforcement techniques, and offering a break from the challenges of parenting.

Learning how to deal with a toddler who is having a tantrum can be challenging for all parents. When toddlers have a meltdown down it is a way of expressing their emotions and that their current needs are not being met. Though these expressions of emotions can be overwhelming for both parents and toddlers alike, teaching a child how to handle difficult emotions is critical.

Nannies are well-trained in childcare so if parents need a little help with the terrible twos they can hire a nanny to assist. Nannies have lots of knowledge of child development and behaviour and can help toddlers navigate their emotions and teach them proper strategies that can help prevent further tantrums.

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