First of all, regrading title, I have to say that we have what it takes to handle whatever comes our way regarding our toddlers behaviour. As they learn, we learn and grow, too. And the second thing is, they want to do better, they just need our guidance, patience and grace to get to the point where they actually do better. It is all worth it to get them to that place.
In May, I put up a post on Instagram, asking about tantrums, meltdowns and crying. I wanted to know exactly what issues Mums were facing on the topic. The post received nearly a hundred comments (including short responses and follow on questions). I have sat down to answer three of the questions. I picked these three because they are very common questions.
First question: Tantrums, 8 month old.
Second question: Crying and demands for mums attention a lot, 3 yo.
Third question: Hitting too often, 2 yo.
Read below to find out the different scenarios and responses I offer.
My 8 month old throws tantrums every time I take objects from him or don’t feed him on time. If I raise my voice, he screams even louder too.
Between 6 and 8 months your baby can now show different feelings. Their moods can change very quickly. Things that may help reduce tantrums as you described above:
- Routine : keep roughly the same daily routine of activities for baby. Have roughly same time for bathing, eating, sleep/night time routine.
- Talk and explain things to him: Do this as though he understands. For example, if he has something you want to take away, talk to him and explain you’re not supposed to have paper, I’m going to take it from you. Then you take it away. You’ll be surprised how much these small considerations go to making baby feel good.
- Schedule play everyday: Offer some time on the floor with one or two toys he can play with. Examples – stacking cups, or small sensory balls, or even just plastic containers with lids. This might give him some free reign to enjoy play his way and give him some sense of control and decision making during his day. It’s also good for his brain and physical development.
- When he has a tantrum, try not to look or sound so surprised. That might give attention to it. Just go quiet and then in a cool voice, ask him what’s the matter and talk about what you think may be annoying him. “I took the paper and you did’nt like it? Its because I don’t want you to put it in your mouth. Take this toy instead”.
My 3 year old will cry if she wants me to turn the car left while I am driving. I always have to explain myself. Or she will cry real tears if she asks me to sit down and I am busy doing something. Sometimes I try to understand her (maybe she misses me after a long day at school), but no she does this when we are together all day too. She cries a lot, in general.
This one really touched my heart because I have a super confident three year old who sometimes just wants my attention. And sometimes I think to myself, I am over-indulging her by giving her my attention. But I am learning that actually our attention is one thing we can never over do. Remember this post?
Firstly, if she needs your attention and you can give (so for example you’re not at that time frying plantain with hot oil or doing something urgent), give it. We are not spoiling them by doing this. Remember, this is the stage where we are laying the foundation for them to talk to us and continue to seek our opinions and views. It’s not in the teen years we suddenly cultivate that, it begins now. Give attention as often as you can.
Secondly, we can ask our children to exercise patience – that’s OK. For example, when my 3 year old needs me and I have to attend to the baby, I explain to her that I am attending to the baby and she has to be patient. I started a mantra: ‘everyone has to be patient sometimes, even baby’. I explain, when I am giving you food or helping you with your crafts, baby had to be patient, too. I illustrate this with examples when things are in motion. When I’m with her and not attending to baby, I make sure to point this out. So if were doing something and especially if the baby is grumbling a bit, I will say, see baby has to be patient sometimes. If you don’t have two babies, you can use examples when you have to be patient. For example, if you place an order for food when you are out, or you’re waiting for a parking space, you can just say, see I have to be patient. At 3, I feel their capacity to understand concepts like this is greater than ever before so I really love to use these kinds of practical examples and I can almost see her brain churning and doing the thinking.
Thirdly, there are sometimes when you cannot give your attention. An example is when my daughter wants me to read her a third book after I’ve said I’m only reading one, during bedtime routine for example. And I just say with all honesty, Mummy is tired and cannot read you more than the one book promised. She loves books and left to her we would read about 7/8 books every night. This is a good thing in general, of course, so I never want to discourage it, but I have my limits when my cup is running at low, at the end of the day, especially. I’m just so tired tonight. After repeating this plea to some of her requests over time, she now understands that sometimes I am tired and cannot play. I am human and nothing wrong with my child seeing that. I get tired. It’s the honest truth. I try to make sure I never abuse this though. I use it only when I am genuinely tired and just do not have to give in that instance.
Finally, the crying a lot part. I feel it’s a whole other post and I will address it as a separate discussion as part of this series on tantrums and meltdowns.
My son just turned 2 years old and he hits everyone and everything. Help, Im at my wits end.
Every time your 2 year old hits you go to him, get down to his level and say, do not hit. Hands are not hitting. Then you make a point to check on the child he has hit, saying: John, let’s check on baby Lola. Baby Lola are you OK, I’m sorry John hit you. If John continues to hit Lola you say, I won’t let you hit and gently lift him up and away so he cannot continue to hit the child.
The trick is to repeat this routine, every single time he hits. You can hold his hands too and make sure to get down to his level. It shouldn’t hurt but holding his hands can help him connect the hands and no hitting advice.
The second tip is not to hit him as punishment. That could cause confusion in the child’s mind, if you say don’t hit but then you hit.
If you can, get a book about hitting – for example, hands are not for hitting. During your chill out bonding time together, you can read the book. And talk about all the things hands are for. And when there a hitting incident go pack to repeat some of those lines.
Please do not make excuses for your child if they hit, or push or bite. It can be a insensitive to the child that is the victim. It can also send the wrong message to your child (however young they may be) that hitting is OK. Also, if your child is in the hitting, pushing phase, watch them very closely when they are at play with other children, so you can jump in and respond or even prevent hitting when needed. Consistency in your response every single time he hits, is the solution. It drives home to your child that hitting is not OK, they will not get away with it, and actually reminds them the person on the other side is hurt or does not enjoy the hitting too. With time, John will do the hitting less and less, you’ll see.
As with most things in this parenting world, and even life in general, we have to be consistent in our approach to see results.
Please feel free to put your questions below the post on Instagram today and I will answer more questions on this hot topic. If you have been in these situations before, I would love to hear your thoughts, too. Please share below.