Tantrum stoppers that work

Yes, it can be a parents most embarrassing time; when your toddler goes limp in the store and starts to scream at the top of their voice: “No, I don’t want to go” or ” I want that toy!” We have all been through it, it’s a child’s natural way at their age to let us know that they are angry or upset. But it still doesn’t make it less painful for a parent when it happens and everyone is staring at you! I have been there, my children have been there with my grandchildren, and friends have gone through the same thing. But the good news is that resistance is not only normal, it’s healthy (it’s your kid gaining confidence, learning independence and figuring out who she is). The better news: There are tricks for guiding them to a more cooperative attitude. Here are a few ideas from Parents.com that can help avoid these situations:

“My toddler won’t let me buckle him into his car seat.”

Worth a battle? Absolutely. Buckling isn’t just the law, it’s a matter of life or death. Keep your toddler in a five-point-harness seat as long as possible. They’re safer, and harder to unfasten mid-ride.

Tactics to try: Keep it light. Use distracting play, like silly songs or goofy faces or see how fast they can do it. Another good idea is to have toys that are just for the car and give them one after strapping them in.

Bribe them, pure and simple. One mother kept a stash of chocolate kisses in the glove compartment. “On the way to the car, she’d say, ‘Hey! I just remembered those kisses in the car. You can have one when you’re all buckled up.'” Of course, just one is plenty.

“My tot won’t let me brush her teeth.”

Worth a battle? It depends on your feelings about dental hygiene. One mom commented that she never brushed a single one of her kids’ teeth, although she gave each child a soft brush and modeled the general idea. She found that with enough praise and by emphasizing the fact that they got to gargle and spit (both fun), the job got done. Pediatric dentists, however, recommend twice a day brushing from infancy, and say you should lend a hand until at least age 5 or 6.

Tactics to try: Blame someone else. Tell them “The dentists says you must brush your teeth.” This takes the pressure off of you; it states a fact and then you can move on.

Sidestep the “no.” – Don’t ask, “Ready to brush your teeth?” Instead, say, “It’s toothbrushing time. Will this be a red-brush day or a yellow-brush day?” This lets your child know that it’s really not a choice, but he can choose the color of toothbrush he uses; they still have some control in the process.

“My child won’t come when I call.”

Worth a battle? It’s not realistic to expect a 2-year-old to abandon, say, the close study of the TV remote that he’s conducting just because you tell him to. That said, you don’t want to be at the utter mercy of his whims. Experts agree that when you repeatedly call but your child doesn’t show up until he’s ready, you’re actually teaching him to ignore you.

Tactics to try: Make it sound worth the trip – When trying to get your little one to come to you, put excitement in your tone, scoop them up when they come to show you are happy they are with you. You can also sing, dance, or wave a puppet to get them to come our way.

Count Down – Instead of calling ‘Come here now!’ give two warnings. Experts suggest waiting a minute, and if your child still doesn’t respond, taking him by the hand and say, “When I call, I expect you to come.”

A toddler can’t tell time but will quickly catch on to your progression of heads-ups. (You can also say something like “Two more trips down the slide.”) It helps to let a child know you understand his point of view: “I bet you wish you could stay in this toy store forever, but it’s time to go now. Hug the toy doggy one more time. Now here are my keys to hold.” Warn, distract, have your way. Of course, sometimes even your best efforts will still net a full limp noodle. But a little creativity and practice may spare you a steady diet of them.

Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Support Specialist for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit www.iowarivervalleyeac.org.