Having 2 or 3-year olds is awe-inspiring seeing how much they grow in such little time, but with this growth comes the infamous TANTRUMS of the terrible twos and the threenagers – two kids at the same time screaming, crying and making floor angels! Most of us want to have a tantrum ourselves in the wake of our child’s breakdown but we try our best to keep our composure and navigate through these really hard times. Here are a few tips to use when your Twins (or Triplets) have a meltdown the next time:
Ignore and Give Space
Most of us want to reason with our kids in the midst of a tantrum, but we know that this is a futile attempt because a child in the middle of a tantrum will not listen or understand what you are saying, let alone reason and communicate with you. The best thing to do at this point is to let them know you will walk away to give them a little time off. Not paying attention to the tantrum, most times, will give that child a bit of space to calm down and understand with that behavior they will not get the attention they are looking for.
By giving attention you are fueling the tantrum and perhaps having them scream and cry a bit louder. Walking away will not only give the child time to calm down but time for you to regroup before your nerves escalate even more.
Of course if you are home it is easier for the above to be possible, but like most of us, these wonderful serenades happen in public most times than not. And when these happen, don’t you just want to be swallowed whole by the earth? But instead, we smile, speak under our teeth and sweat profusely as we try to offer any kind of diversion from every parent’s worse nightmare in the middle of the grocery store.
As onlookers are giving you stares, you reach into your purse for anything to distract your child and try to remain calm. Having a little toy car, a little book or any other toy or trinket that they haven’t seen in a while will perhaps calm the storm for a bit. If all else fails pull out your phone with Kids Youtube!
Get Down to their Level
Many times when they are having a tantrum we are having our own tantrum. We are towering over them, looking downward and trying to reason from 4 feet above them. Getting down to their level and sitting on the floor with them as they are calming down will have better results than you standing or trying to pick them up. Sitting or kneeling at their face level will give them the message that you are coming down to their view of the world.
Although this is incredibly hard at the time, talking in your most calm and soothing voice is key. If they feel your tension and frustration things will only escalate. The whole reason that they are having a tantrum in the first place is to get attention. They don’t care if its positive or negative attention they just want YOUR FULL attention. Talking calmly lets your child understand that their behavior will not get to you in a negative way. Although you are doing it for them you are also doing it as much for yourself and avoid your blood pressure tipping the charts!
Hugs and Silence
I have proven this works in the last couple of tantrums we have had. Instead of escalating with my children, I have just told them I am going to hug you now, or if I sense their mood that I can, I will just hug without saying anything and instantly they will stop and hug right back. I’ll usually rub their back and sit on the couch or floor wherever I am closest to and not saying anything, I will rock and rub them for a good 5 minutes. This has worked wonders here at home because a tantrum is usually flared by the other sibling, lack of attention or not getting something quick enough.
In public, the above scenario is usually a bit harder as you have other kids, strollers, shopping carts, groceries etc so for this instance the best is to drop everything and just go to the car and regroup. Sometimes the atmosphere is a bit too much stimulation for a 2 and 3 year old. Noise, loud sounds, too many people may trigger a tantrum. Changing the atmosphere usually helps. In a grocery store, leave the groceries and go back to the car and take a minute or two for things to subside. At a restaurant, just take a walk outside for bit and once they are calm, talk over that you’ll come back in and finish.
Laugh if you can!
Finally, laugh it off! As much as the situation is one the most mortifying moments a parent can go through, smiling and acting like its not a big deal in public is what others will be looking at, not how bad your child is! At the end, a child is a child and is part of their growth to have tantrums but how you manage it will say most about you, at least to all those parents and onlookers with perfect parenting skills and perfect children!
About the Author: Joanna Navarrete CPRC, TLC’s Pre & Postpartum Associate and mother to three beautiful children – one girl and a set of fraternal boy/girl twins. Born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has lived in Miami for more than 17 years and is bilingual English/Spanish and CPR certified. You can contact Joanna at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our Miami and Hispanic services.