I sat at the table while my strong-willed toddler let out an enormous screech. We were having lunch at a local café and after a short while she wanted up out of her seat. I leaned in close and offered a few calming words to try and get her to sit a bit longer. It didn’t work. She screeched even louder. My cheeks turned red as the other customers gawped at this unfolding power struggle.
How to deal with toddler meltdowns when you're out and about
Life during lockdown can feel chaotic. Our kids are addicted to their screens, we’re physically and emotionally worn out trying to juggle it all, then throw bickering kids into the mix and your head’s ready to explode. No wonder we’ve had enough and can feel very raw and emotional. So, what are some things we can do to positively affect the mood in our homes?
I have a few clear memories of when my children were young, and I thought it was my mummy duty to demand sharing. My 3-year old daughter fought with her brother over whose turn it was to play with the train tracks, the bubble making machine, the Elmo costume… and enter the endless kerfuffle of having two kids who just HAD to have the exact same toy, even though neither wanted it a second ago. Maybe you can relate? It’s so HARD as a parent to know what the best way to teach sharing is. Especially if you find yourself in a playdate or playground, and you have a ‘grabber’ on your hands and all eyes on you. What do you do?!
Back-chat, talking back, disrespectful behaviour. Whatever you call it, I bet it can make your blood boil. I’ve heard from many parents whose kids are driving them up the wall... Dealing with backchat can be challenging, especially when your child is rude, always wants his own way and the disrespectful behaviour is fuelled with aggression and refusing to do what you ask. I know how easily it can change the family dynamics.
“You’re her mother, you should make her wear a coat!” I was told by my well-meaning mother-in-law. We joke in my family that if my daughter finally wears a coat, you KNOW it must be cold! I did reply: “What age does she need to be to decide if she’s warm enough, especially if I’ve been telling her, her whole life she’s wrong to feel how she does? You see, with the best of intentions we can override our child’s inner compass and squelch their emotional intelligence.
Does this sound familiar? -You tell your toddler not to throw his toys, he looks at you square in the eyes and does it anyway. -You ask your 6 -year-old to stop playing, it’s bath time. She has a mega meltdown, an hour’s passed before she’s anywhere near the bathroom. -Your 13-year-old wants to play video games with his friends, but he needs to see daylight, and screens are taking over family life. When you insist he come out for a walk, he explodes with such anger that it leaves you feeling infuriated, worn-out and powerless.
I bet you have a million things to do and you don't have the time to deal with tantrums over homework. You wish your child would just sit down and get on with their schoolwork, so why does a 30-minute exercise take hours and hours of tears and arguing?
Parenting…being on lockdown and at home. all. day can feel a little claustrophobic and stressful, don’t you think?
Oh My! This kind of behaviour is enough to make you go crazy. Don’t you sometimes wish you had a padded room you could just throw your kids in and let them sort it out? Like so many parents, I bet you’re left wondering how on earth do I get the fighting to stop? I can’t stand it anymore. How do I stop the fighting for good? Without shouting, threatening and punishments.
I was waiting in line for the checkout at the supermarket and my strong-willed toddler was having a fit over not getting chocolate buttons… Full-on meltdown. She threw herself to the floor and cried like she’d been attacked by a swarm for bees. I could feel all eyes on me. Waiting to see what I would do next. How was I going to get to the car without losing my cool and without causing a scene?
One tip to change everything and bring joy back to shopping. “We are not buying anything else.” Sophie reminded her children. “We are only popping into one shop and we’re only getting a present for Daddy.” And just like clockwork, both kids were wanting. “Look at this Mummeeeee. I neeed thissss!!!” Sophie was frustrated. How many times had she told her children they couldn’t always have what they wanted? “How many times do I have to tell you?! We’re not getting anything else; you’re sounding spoilt and ungrateful.” But it always fell on deaf ears. Nothing changed.
You are not responsible for other people’s emotions and they are not responsible for yours. One of the greatest illusions is that you cause other people’s emotions and they cause yours. Think about it. Isn’t this what most of us have been led to believe? It’s modelled through daily interactions and how people typically relate to others. How often have you heard people say: “You’re making mummy sad?” “You’re making me really mad right now!” Because we’ve been told that others are the cause of our reactions and emotions. The craziness of this outlook is that truly we are the ONLY people responsible for our own emotions and reactions. AND we are not responsible for the emotions of others, including our children! It doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible parents, that we should make our child’s life difficult or that we don’t care for their emotional well-being. It means we are not responsible for their emotions and reactions.