Your adorable toddler wants a toy in the grocery store and you keep walking past it or tell him no. What happens next? A loud screech and meltdown with full on alligator tears. Sound familiar? I know it does for me, but its usually because Nolan (my incredible, loving, crazy and feisty little two year old) doesn’t like to ride in the grocery cart. On the rare occasion that I take him to the store by myself, it typically results in me just grabbing the necessities and getting to the check out line to avoid the continuous meltdown.
The meltdown stage. The stage of boundaries. The lovely terrible two’s! Which should be referred to as the terrible twos and threes because it definitely doesn’t go from Wild Thing to Sweet Child o’ Mine overnight when they turn three. While it does get better, it can seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel at times.
So how do you guide their behavior?
- Stick to the Nap Schedule: This is so important and a game changer for my family. If Nolan misses his nap during the day, we contemplate cancelling our plans for that evening because we KNOW whats coming and it isn’t going to be pleasant. Kids NEED sleep. Good sleep and an adequate amount of sleep. If your child doesn’t nap, then making sure they get to bed at a decent hour every night is essential.
- Stick to the Meal Schedule: The meltdown that results from Nolan’s meal time being delayed can be as bad as missing nap time. I am always equipped with a plethora of snacks to keep him from getting Hangry. I have snacks stashed in my purse, the diaper bag and my car and I make sure they are stocked at all times and its been a lifesaver on more than one occasion.
- Consequences: There have to be consequences or they can’t and won’t learn that their behaviour isn’t ok. For me, a firm NO the first time usually works. If its something that he continues to do he may get a pop on the hand which 95% of the time stops him in his tracks.
- Be Consistent: Kids as young as 2 will quickly see the pattern if you cave in or are inconsistent. If you tell them No, it’s so important to stick with that decision regardless of the length or intensity of the tantrum. We’re all guilty of changing our mind or caving at some point but I make a very conscious effort to stick with my decision and be consistent.
- Offer Choices: Often times my children’s inappropriate behaviour stems from not feeling like that have control over the situation. Being a control freak myself, I know how that can feel. I try to give my kids options when it’s possible. Give them a choice for lunch or where to sit at dinner, give them a choice for their outfit or a choice for a book. There is usually always something that you can give them a choice for and just that little bit in itself can help tremendously.
- Redirect: Sometimes its just easier on you and the child to redirect. If it isn’t something that requires an explanation on why it isn’t ok, but instead something that you would rather they not do or something that isn’t appropriate at that particular time, redirection is so helpful. Redirecting their attention to something else, another toy, or a tickle or hugs and kisses can totally stop a tantrum in its tracks.
- Praise/Give Positive Attention: This is so important because oftentimes it feels like we are constantly saying No or redirecting them. If it feels that way to us, you can rest assured it feels that way to our littles. Always praise them when they have done something good or something that you have had to get on to them before. Maybe they shared a toy with a child without you asking, PRAISE that behavior. Kids crave attention and they will want to do whatever it is again in the future for that positive praise.
Your child isn’t the only child that has ever misbehaved. We have ALL been through it. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. You are not alone and this is normal developmental behavior. This list is by no means the only thing you can do, these are just things that have worked for me. Check out Juggling the Joys of Motherhood for a few more tips! I would love to hear from you on some of the things that work for you. Share your experience or tip by leaving me a comment below or sending me an email. We are all in this together! <3