THE 'terrible twos' is a term that fills most parents with dread, marking the start of the inevitable tantrum phase.
But if you're worried about how to cope with the unpredictable meltdowns, then look no further!
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Norland Nanny and behaviour expert Emily Martin, who has over 10 years’ experience working with families, has shared her four top tips on what you should and shouldn't do when it comes to toddler tantrums…
Emily says that 'emotion coaching' is a technique that she use with all the families she works with.
"This is allowing children to understand their emotions and that the way they’re feeling at any given time is okay," she explains.
"Parents need to support children, especially toddlers, with this. They can help them identify the emotion they are feeling and explain that it’s fine for them to be feeling that way."
Emily goes onto note that it's also important for a parent to explain when a behaviour isn’t acceptable when feeling a certain emotion.
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"For example, when your toddler is feeling angry, explain that ‘it is okay to feel cross because we have asked you to tidy up your toys – but what makes mummy/daddy cross is that you have hit me with your toys because you do not want to tidy them up," she says.
"The language you use with children and how you communicate with them is incredibly important in getting them to understand what is acceptable and what isn’t."
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STAYING CALM AND COMMUNICATING
Emily says that this is where her ‘cool as a cucumber’ technique comes in.
"Children feed off your energy and the way you respond to their tantrum or behaviour," she points out. "If you begin to shout and get cross, they mirror that behaviour and the tantrum escalates."
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Instead, Emily says to try to stay calm as this helps toddlers to know that they are in a safe environment and eventually they will mirror your behaviour.
"Get down to their level and try talking to them calmly," she explains. "Ask them how you can help and what it is they need, offer a hug and some reassurance.
"If they do not want it, then tell them that you will sit here and that when they are ready, they can come to you."
Emily says this allows your child to make the choice to come to you and ensures they feel safe in doing so.
"Communication is not always about you talking to children, it's about listening to them," she continues.
"Often children can feel that they are being ignored or how they feel is being brushed over. So it’s important to make sure you’re listening to your child.
According to Emily, one of the easiest tools to use with children to try and prevent a tantrum from happening or escalating is to give them two options.
"For example, if you know that getting out of the door in the morning is a struggle, give your child two options: ‘do you want to put your shoes on first or your coat?’" she says.
"Giving children a choice allows them to feel in control of the situation and gives them independence."
Emily goes on to offer another example: "If you allow your children screen time and it always seems a ‘fight’ when you ask them to turn it off – ask ‘would you like to turn the TV off or would you like me to?’
"Or another method is giving the option of when to turn the TV off: ‘would you like to turn the TV off now or when my timer goes off in 2 minutes?’"
The parenting guru adds that these methods may seem straight forward but they work wonders with keeping a calm household.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Finally, Emily notes that consistency is key at any age for children.
"They must have a good understanding that if they react in a certain way that's not appropriate, there are boundaries and that these boundaries are the same every time and not as and when a parent feels like it," she explains.
"If one day you don't react to a certain behaviour, for example, if your child hits you whilst you are in a public place and there's no reaction but then they do the same at home and there is a different reaction, the child becomes confused and frustrated."
Emily's advice is agreeing your boundaries as parents and stick to them – adding that then your child will always know what's expected of them and which behaviour isn't acceptable.
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She concludes: "These 4 steps will help conquer those toddler tantrums and help create a happy parenting environment for you as the parent."
You can book an online consultation with Emily to discuss any behaviour issues via Koala & Joe, a new platform connecting parents with trusted & verified experts.
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