All parents have had to deal with the dreaded “temper tantrum.” Children around the ages of one to five years old are dealing with big emotions that they cannot fully comprehend or adequately deal with. Anger, sadness, excitement, and frustration are often expressed through shouting and crying. While this may leave any parent with a splitting headache and their own sense of frustration, it’s imperative that young children feel supported as they learn to handle and understand these emotions.
The next time your toddler is feeling overwhelmed, use these helpful Montessori strategies:
Be present and give them time
An “emotional rollercoaster” is not only a term used for adults, but toddlers too, since it’s exactly how they feel during a meltdown.
From calm to frustration to rage, it’s important that you sit with your toddler while simultaneously giving them space as they experience these emotions. It’s essential you let them know you are present but do not touch or talk to them right away. This could lead to overstimulation and is futile as they would be unable to hear you above the noise of their loud emotions.
Only your toddler can end their tantrum, so it’s best to allow it to run its course. No matter how inconvenient the timing of the situation may be, stay calm, be present and ensure your child feels safe.
Acknowledge their feelings
One of the tools utilised in the Montessori method is observation. Once your toddler has calmed down, it’s time to acknowledge their feelings and gently bring their attention to the reason the tantrum took place. An essential part of rebounding from tantrums is to put a name to the emotion and ensure they understand what happened before letting the moment pass.
Understand their triggers
Whether you’re at home or strolling a shopping mall, tantrums can happen anywhere and anytime. Another instance where observation becomes key is when noting what could be a potential trigger for your child. This could be anything from telling them it’s time to leave the playground, a new baby, certain children or feeling tired or hungry. Understanding your child’s triggers could save you from dealing with a full-blown tantrum.
Distraction is a wonderful technique to have in your toolbox the next time you’re out and about. In the early stages of a tantrum, redirect your toddler’s attention to something else. This can be anything from giving them a delicious snack to asking them to help you with grocery shopping. Toddlers love to feel some sense of control, and this is a great way to achieve this.
Have a routine
Nothing deters a tantrum more than a consistent routine. Young children love the security of having a good routine as it allows them to know exactly what will happen next. You’ll need to give them fair warning when changing their schedule, and even if everything goes according to plan, let them know what will happen next. For example, “we’re going to eat, get dressed, read a book, and then take a nap.” Consistency is key and will make all the difference in preventing a tantrum.
How to avoid a tantrum all-together
It’s a fact of life, tantrums are unavoidable when raising toddlers. However, there are a few more methods you can use in order to avoid them. Develop a strategy that suits your child’s needs and allow the tears to flow without harsh criticism or judgement while practising these strategies:
- Be prepared, especially when heading out. Pack a few of your child’s favourite games, toys or snacks.
- Get down to their level when speaking to them.
- Ask how you can help if you see them struggling and getting frustrated with something.
- Let them express their anger in a creative way.
- Get familiar with their emotions as this will allow you to accurately label them the next time a tantrum hits.
It can be difficult to watch your child as they deal with such intense emotions, but plenty can be achieved through patience and a calm demeanour. Young children have an uncanny ability to go from anger to their happy selves in a matter of minutes, so stick with it and make use of these handy Montessori strategies!