I recently received some excellent advice regarding toddlers and the inevitable temper tantrums that tend to begin between the ages of 14 and 16 months. It has been almost 14 years since I had a child of that age range and I honestly didn’t remember having to deal with this issue before but once the pouting lip started to appear, I suddenly remembered it all too well!
The advice was simple. Use the art of distraction. Rather than playing in to the tantrum, simple find an alternate activity to distract the toddler. Due to their acute curiosity and limited attention span, introducing a new activity will almost always do the trick!
A Good Example:
Baby wants to play with moms cell phone. Mom takes the phone away and the baby throws herself on the floor and begins to scream. Mom appears to ignore the screaming and grabs the nearest toy and begins playing with it. Baby becomes confused by the lack of attention and intrigued by the enjoyment mom seems to be having with the toy. When the screaming subsides, mom holds the toy out to the baby and invites her to come and play. Mom makes silly faces and expresses an Academy Award winning amount of elation at this plastic marvel and then laughs along with the now smiling baby.
That’s all there is to it. In a matter of minutes a temper tantrum is replaced by a smile and with little to no stress or anxiety.
Things to Avoid:
Never use food or treats to quiet a tantrum. This can cause the toddler to associate rewards with negative behavior. Some experts also believe that this behavior assoication can be tied to certain eating disorders.
Never just give in. Toddlers will learn what it takes to get what they want very quickly. They will learn how to push buttons and, when successful, will continue this behavior.
Use discipline to keep your toddler safe, not as a punishment. They are still too young to understand the concept of consequences for bad behavior. Discipline should be reserved for stopping dangerous behavior and removing potential hazards.