Toddlers are synonymous with temper tantrums, but there are ways you can contain or even prevent an explosive outburst.
- Actions speak louder than words
Do not hit or shout at your child, as they may copy your behaviour, disrespect you and others or, even worse, fear you. It is much more effective to speak calmly to your toddler and gently correct the situation at hand. Encourage good behaviour by praising and rewarding the child every time they do something good, for example when they successfully use the potty. Praise by clapping, giving a hug or using words like “smart baby” or “good baby”; incentivise by giving baby a piece of fruit or a favourite snack (not sweets).
- Turn everything into fun
Toddlers dislike playtime disruptions. Doing chores or other daily routines like brushing teeth and bathing can be boring and they will avoid these at all costs. To avert the situation, turn it all into fun. Have a tooth-brushing competition and see who wins an apple! Or call “bathing” by another name, like “water splashing” and fill the tub with toys.
- Ignore small bad habits
Sometimes toddlers do things just to get your attention. By acknowledging their screaming fit in public or picking up the things they repeatedly throw on the fall, you are inadvertently encouraging them. Ignore small things and eventually, in the absence of an audience, the toddler will stop. Use positive talk. For example, instead of saying “Don’t get dirty!” rather say “Clever girls (or boys) stay clean!” They will immediately be inspired to be the clever child.
- Help them or use distraction
Your toddler may want to get their teddy bear from top of the bookshelf, but the fact that they can’t reach is very frustrating to them. If what they are trying to do is safe, help them. If there is a risk of injury or danger (for example, they want to reach for a scissors) it is a good idea to distract them (draw their attention to an outdoor activity, perhaps).
- Discipline fairly and positively
Despite your best efforts, at some point your toddler will break the rules. When your child acts out, give them a warning. If their poor behaviour continues, guide your child to a designated timeout spot ideally a quiet place with no distractions. Enforce the timeout for only one minute for every year of your child’s age. Have a structure and routine to help you keep some order in the home, with set times for bathing, feeding, playing and sleep times.