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10 Things Not to Do When Your Toddler Throws a Tantrum (Part 1)

10 Things Not to Do When Your Toddler Throws a Tantrum (Part 1)

Dolapo Marinho

My sister came visiting recently and told me about how her daughter had thrown an epic tantrum in public.

“Dolapo…that child wanted to disgrace me at the American embassy.  But you know what, I showed her who was boss!”

Her daughter had flown into a blind rage for a good 30 minutes, writhing all over the floor and screaming at the top of her voice. My sister had two options:

  1. Take her outside to avoid the embarrassment of accusing eyes and lose her place in the queue.
  2. Ride out the storm like a boss!

She decided on option 2, allowing her daughter to roll all over the floor, and ignoring the protestations of the people in the room. My sister knew that when a child is in the heat of a tantrum, mummy’s options are severely limited.

So, here’s a list of top 10 things NOT to do when your child is having a meltdown of epic proportions.

1. Do Not Smother in Love

A tantrum is an irrational reaction to a specific trigger.  The trigger could be something as insignificant as your child not wanting to wear her favourite red shoes today.  Seeing your child in such distress makes you want to comfort her and smother her in hugs and kisses but this is exactly what you should NOT do!

Your child is an unresponsive vessel of rage at that moment, and anything you do to break into the red mist will be met with resistance and resentment.  Just steer well clear of her until she has calmed herself down. You will find that the tantrum subsides a lot quicker than if you had tried to console her yourself.

2. Do NOT punish

Yes, you were extremely embarrassed when your little terror decided to unleash the beast in the middle of your dinner party with daddy’s important guests. So, you drag her to her room amidst lots of kicks and screams without any dinner! After all, you’re pretty sure you did not stress your own mother out this much! Ahn ahn! The simple fact of the matter is your child might not even know why she is so angry. She will have even more trouble understanding why she has been punished and asked to go to sleep without food.  The sense of injustice she feels from being punished will definitely escalate the severity of the tantrum!

3. Do NOT shout

The exasperation of trying to reason with a child that is wailing for absolutely no real reason can be the height of frustration for an already stressed out parent.  The temptation to throw your own tantrum in return is so immense you yell and scream right back at him. You might even get so upset and burst into tears!  This is a fundamental error.  When dealing with young children, you have to try as much as possible to remain calm.  Nothing will be achieved by you behaving like a toddler yourself! Also, your child will now understand exactly what it takes to get you annoyed!

READ ALSO: Are Your Kids In Charge? Here Are 6 Ways To Regain Control

4. Do NOT bribe

Suppressing the urge to silence a screaming child in a public place by giving her what she wants or bribing her with a promised treat, is an immense test of anyone’s willpower.  With all eyes on you and people thinking how incompetent a parent you are, all you want to do is deflect the unwanted attention by getting your child to keep quiet! The problem with this strategy, however, is, while it might work in the short term and your child calms down, you are setting yourself up for bigger trouble in future.  As soon as your child realizes that she can get what she wants by throwing a tantrum, she will be doing so at will in anticipation of a reward!

5. Do NOT ignore the signs

Often times, children have stress triggers that routinely lead to full blown temper tantrums.  Signs that a tantrum is brewing are often missed by parents who are too busy trying to lay down the law. If your child gets grumpy when hungry and you keep allowing her to get hungry, then you are going to get a situation on your hands sooner rather than later.  If your child does not like the raw tomato you consistently put on her plate and force her to eat, then do not be surprised if she flips the third time you try to make her eat it.

Do not do the same things and expect different results. Pay attention to your child’s stress levels and take the precautions to prevent her flaring up. Always have a snack handy, blend the tomatoes into a sauce. You might end up with a happy child most of the time and that’s got to be worth it!

…to be continued.

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