"Any tips on how to cope with these Toddler Tantrums?"
Here's my response:
Little Guy's tantrums have been steadily increasing since they started, when he was around 18 months old. Nowadays, a "good" day is when he only has three or four. There are days when he'll have four in an hour! I attribute them to his increasing independence. He gets frustrated when he can't do something (whether he's not allowed or incapable - it doesn't matter which.) I also noticed that growth spurts can lead to more tantrums, too. Between being hungrier and more tired, plus he's probably a little achy from growing pains, he gets extra-crabby.
The good news is, the more he is able to effectively communicate with words, the shorter the regular tantrums have become. I started to ask him to talk to me from the time his vocabulary suddenly had a growth spurt, around 2 years old. My mantra has been "I can't understand you when you cry or whine. Please use words to tell me the problem." If he is too upset to talk and I've given him enough time to feel that he's shown me how displeased he is, I'll ask him questions using vocabulary that he needs. "Are you feeling sad because you can't do ___?" And: "You must be very frustrated that the puzzle piece won't fit there." When he can tell me what the problem is, at least he knows his feelings have been validated.
I also communicate my own emotions to him. "I am becoming very angry because you are just screaming and crying and won't come talk to me." It lets him know that I can feel the same emotions as he does. It also makes me feel better to let off that little bit of steam. Just saying that I'm angry/frustrated/sad aloud makes ME feel that MY emotions have been validated!
I don't give in. This sounds mean, doesn't it? The thing is, with Little Guy, I've learned that giving in once means he'll try the tactic 1,000 more times. What I do is offer alternatives. I don't just give him one thing: "The library's closed. We'll go to the park instead." I don't give him an infinite number of choices: "The library's closed. What else would you like to do?" I give him two options: "The library's closed. Would you like to go to the park, or go for a walk?" He's back in control of the situation, yet he's not completely overwhelmed with choices.
Recently, he's started having tantrums that seem pointless. Today he had one because one of his Hot Wheels ran into another one. HUH?! He's the one in charge of the damn cars, and now he's sad because he made one car be mean to another? I quickly learned that the cars have absolutely nothing to do with these outbursts. About 95% of the time, I can stop him in mid-scream by offering a hug. "Wow, you must feel very sad about your Mercury Coupe getting hit by the Viper! Why don't you take a break from your cars? I'll bet you'd feel better if we laid down on the bed together and I gave you a bunch of big hugs." Sometimes he falls asleep, ans sometimes he's back in action and feeling happy in a few minutes.
Sometimes, there's absolutely nothing I can do. He just gets himself so upset that anything I say or do just feeds the fire. That's when I feel some big mama anger bubbling up. I need to step out of the situation, and fast. I'll gently set him on the bed and let him scream, hit, kick, etc. I will tell him once or twice to let me know when he's done so we can talk or hug. Then, I have to mentally take myself out of the situation. I'll watch TV - any show! - with Closed Captioning on and really pay attention to it. Sometimes I head to Facebook or enter a couple of giveaways. Anything to keep my mind occupied. I'm always in the same room with him to make sure he stays safe and to be here for him when he's ready.
Finally, I don't hold a grudge or act superior. I'll never rub his nose in the fact that he did all of that screaming for nothing because he didn't get his way. I won't act angry with him after he's finished all the yelling. I never bring the subject up again, as in "Remember the last time you wanted to ___ and I said 'No'? You freaked out and cried and screamed." It just reminds him of a bad time he had and tells him that I might still be angry about it because I remember it. I'm working on getting my husband and oldest to avoid these things, too. When they do it to Little Guy, I can really see how badly he feels about himself. Who would want to make a little one feel sad and ashamed? Why would a parent ever want their child to feel as if they didn't love their son or daughter as much just because of an emotional outburst?
Now, I'm no expert on the subject of tantrums. My oldest had less than FIVE tantrums - ever. When people used to complain about their kids' tantrums, I'd be secretly rolling my eyes at them. Now that I'm in over my head with them, I understand. I also know that it's important to listen to other parents' solutions to the question of how to deal with them. I sometimes wonder if I'm raising a bratty little boy and it scares me that he could grow into a nasty adult. So, now it's MY turn to ask:
Do you have any tips on how to deal with tantrums?