Being a mom or parent to a toddler is usually no cake walk. While there are lots of amazing and bright shiny moments, there are also some trying situations that seem overwhelming and hard to manage. As soon as Smith turned 2 I knew I needed support in how to deal with a toddler and their amazing mood swings. There were lots of highs and lows and I felt unequipped with what to do besides lose my cool when my patience was tested over sometimes something as simple as a popsicle. It seemed like there was no rhyme or reason for what set him off, but I knew there had to be ways of coping for my sanity and for his.
I love reading parenting books and listening to podcasts to hear from the true experts on their advice on how to be the best mom I could be. I find it so helpful since I hate myself when I raise my voice or lose my temper at my child. When I was pregnant I turned to books like Cherish The First Six Weeks, Babywise and Bringing Up Bebe, then I turned to a baby nurse and lactation consultant when Smith was a baby, so I knew there would be a ton of info out there if I looked for it. I kept seeing other moms post about tantrums in different mom groups and forums and a lot of moms said they love Janet Lansbury’s books and podcasts. I decided to give her podcast a try because it was free and easy to take in since I spend so much time in my car, and I have to say it was a game-changer! She really opened my eyes to so much I didn’t know about kids and how their brains work. I highly recommend buying her book or giving “Unruffled” a listen. There are a ton of episodes, so I recommend searching for topics that interest and pertain to you.
Without further ado, here great takeaways I learned and try to implement with my toddler who is now 4 and has a mind of his own and lots of spunky personality!
- Tantrums are not bad. They are actually really healthy and a way for your child process his or her feelings. Kids cannot quite understand what they are feeling, whether it be scared, frustrated, hungry, tired, etc so they tend to act out. Re-framing in your mind that a tantrum is good and not bad can work wonders!
- When you child inevitably has a meltdown, it’s all about how you react to it. While I am far from perfect, I actively work on my reactions to Smith’s actions. The experts say tackle these big feels from little people head on and validate their feelings. Do try to distract or lessen the tantrum. Listen and let them know you are there. I also learned that I had been making the tantrums last longer and more frequent by the way I was reacting with anger because he was feeling super disconnected from me and my anger was fueling his because I was not validating his emotions or feelings.
- Being super connected with you child is a helpful way to keep tantrums to a minimum. Experts like Janet say that if you child is feeling disconnected and uneasy in the house, he or she will act out even more, which is why a lot of first kids have a hard time coping with new siblings – change is hard for everyone. Janet says take time out to really listen to your kids, get on their eyesight level and talk to them and spend quality time away from phones.
- Kids crave boundaries and routine and it’s super helpful to have them in place so your child knows what to expect everyday and more importantly, what you expect of them. Also, routines like bedtimes and nap times are really important so that your child is getting enough sleep, which can really help keep tantrums at bay. Also having boundaries around screen time and sugar can really help so that your child knows the limits and knows you mean business when you say no. Explaining why we have boundaries can also be helpful because kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for being.
- Say no when it is helpful to you and stick with that. Make sure your child knows no means no. And you don’t have to say no to things like candy unless you know it is a dealbreaker for you and your family. Pick your battles and make sure the no is because there is a reason behind it and don’t let up. Also it’s really helpful to follow through with what you say you are going to do – good and bad (Janet doesn’t love consequences, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do) so that your child knows when you say something you mean it!