Let’s face it, toddlers can be a handful. Being a stay-at-home-mom of a strong-willed, busy 2-year-old is hardly the glamorous job that I had imagined it to be.
One minute you’re in a verbal argument over not having ice cream for breakfast and the next they’re giving you the sweetest cuddles that make your heart melt. They can go from throwing a fit in the crowded, supermarket aisles to sitting down quietly while doing a puzzle.
The constant battles of them trying to get their way can be tough, but I will be showing you how to handle toddler temper tantrums in hopes to decrease or even prevent them from now on.
A Toddler has Newfound Independence
This is the stage of childhood where your little one is taking in so many new experiences and life lessons. They’re learning right from wrong, daily routines, and the expectations set for them.
This is all taking place while they’re getting a grasp on their newfound independence. They’re learning that they don’t have to be spoon-fed or hand-held and they can do all of these new activities on their own!
It’s something that we can’t really be mad at them for. After all, a strong-willed child will hopefully grow up to be a successful leader one day. Isn’t that a character trait that we want our child to possess?
However, instilling those traits in our child does come at a cost. A loud, ignorant, exhausting cost.
Toddlers have power struggles and throw temper tantrums for one main reason: fighting for their independence. No, they’re not trying to secede from your home and move out on their own. They’re just trying to get a sense of doing things for themselves.
They want to make their own decisions and be successful when they do. They want to try things by themselves and test out their new skills.
Toddlers feel so strongly about wanting to do everything for themselves that they’ll stop at nothing to accomplish that.
Letting them have some control
Doing things on their own is what is going to get them to learn new skills, accomplish tasks they didn’t think were possible, and create a vast understanding about the world around them.
However, sometimes we, as parents, need to be in control too. We need to pick out their outfits or prepare their meals. Otherwise, they’d be leaving the house in pajamas and having goldfish for dinner.
There are so many learning opportunities available to our children when you grant them independence, but it can be hard when we also need to set rules and boundaries.
We need to make sure they’re safe and healthy by creating an environment of exploration and education, while also ensuring their safety and teaching them the household rules.
Therefore, since both you and your toddler want to be in control and take charge, that’s when the power struggle begins…
Finding a solution
There is a solution to these struggles that you may not have thought of yet. It works 95% of the time with my daughter and I’m so glad that I’ve been using this strategy all along.
The ONLY strategy to remember when you need to handle your strong-willed toddler is:
One of my favorite tactics that I use to reduce toddler temper tantrums and power struggles is to OFFER CHOICES. It’s seriously the most genius parenting hack ever.
Like I stated before, toddlers want to be in control. They are just now learning about their new independence and pushing their limits to see what they can get away with. They also want to test out how successful they can be at a new skill or task.
The strategy of offering choices is one of the best tactics to give your child the independence that they are begging for, but you
Offering choices works like this: You pick 2 or 3 items or activities and ask them to pick one. Seems easy enough right?
Typically a tantrum will begin when your toddler wants something that you don’t want them to have or wants to do something that you don’t want them to do. Once you say no, a temper tantrum unfolds.
However, THE KEY STRATEGY is that you don’t JUST say no. You offer them 2 choices of other items and have them choose between both.
This way, you are still in control of either outcome, but they fill like they have ultimately won because they got to pick the one that they wanted.
It’s best to do this strategy BEFORE the tantrum occurs. Once they are set off, it’s difficult to bring them back, even if you think that you are offering them great choices.
It works for dressing..
For example, my daughter LOVES the color blue. She only wants to wear
However, I get away with this when I give her a choice. So if I know I don’t want her wearing blue today, I will say: Do you want to wear the purple shirt or the green shirt? She will usually take a second and say Hmmm, the green shirt.
She won’t even mention the blue shirt because she was given 2 options and loves that she gets to decide between them. It ALWAYS works because she still feels like she is in control.
It works for mealtime..
Another example is at mealtime. My daughter loves Mac and cheese. If I ever ask her what she wants for dinner, she will say Mac and cheese.
If I tell her no, there will be a temper tantrum. If I just put carrots on her plate instead of Mac and cheese, there will be a meltdown.
Therefore, before we sit down I say to her, Do you want chicken nuggets or meatballs? She’ll take a second and say, hmmm chicken nuggets.
I try to still offer her things that I know she will like, but still giving her a choice.
It works for playtime..
During playtime, if I’d rather her do something educational, I will offer her to do a puzzle or read a book. Giving her the choice lets her feel like she is picking something that she wants to do even though it may not have crossed her mind before.
. . . . .
Not only is this a good way to decrease temper tantrums, but it will also give them a sense of pride when they get to make a decision on their own.
Offering choices gives your toddler a sense of
Start trying this with your toddler and I promise you will see a dramatic difference in the struggles and tantrums.
As always, speak gently and easily with your child when dealing with a temper tantrum. Try not to lose your patience because toddlers don’t do well when they know you’re upset and angry, as well.
Have you tried this tactic yet when handling temper tantrums with your little one? Let me know in the comments!