3 Steps to calm your upset toddler
Oh! The devastation when our little toddler gets upset! When we are around three (30 to 42 months), the world revolves entirely around us, right? Or so our toddler’s think….
You can keep your babies cute and get them to calm down while not getting too overworked while doing it, you know. Try those steps and see how gradually the little person leaves the stage of pure irritation to embrace calm and serenity:
When the child gets upset because of not getting his/her way, getting overwhelmed yourself as a parent does not help the situation. It’s a matter of fact, it gets worse because the child looks to you to regulate him/herself and you are the model they follow. You have to keep calm and let him/her know that all is well and that they are safe. This shows them that you understand. They then become more willing to pay attention. When you show your baby that you understand it starts the calming process. Reassure your baby: “Aw! You’re upset, I see. You’ll be OK, tell me what is going on” “I can see why you don’t want to put that toy down.” You extend your arms, you give a hug, you caress, and maybe smile, and it is all positive. This must not be mistaken for giving in: keep eye contact with your child and use a firm but loving voice (not the one we use when we are playing with them). State facts so that they know you understand, it is not redundant for a three-year old.
2. Get to His/Her level and redirect:
Little people do not know what to do, especially when they are upset. When you get to their level and look into those watery or angry little eyes, relate to them. Provide them with different choices: “Maybe if we play with the balls we would have more fun”, “Oooh! The swing looks like so much fun!” “I have some paper and crayons here, would you like to sit next to me and work too? You can be my work partner!” Teach them sound choice-making skills to enable them to self-regulate in much better ways and be solution-finders to issues they encounter in different situations as they grow.
When your toddler changes his/her focus and becomes calm, it is time to praise those actions. Make sure that it is not overly done, a simple “I like how you calmed down!” or “You are doing a good job at building this tower, this looks like fun!” will do. Keep looking for ways to reinforce your child’s actions when he/she takes the right direction and you will see that the “storm” will pass quicker than usual.
Children like to please their parents. When you show love while disciplining, they tend to calm down faster and cooperate. When you reward their cooperation with words of affirmation, hugs, or smiles, it only encourages them to look for other ways to please you as a parent. Of course, each child is different and techniques do not work for all children the same way, but I can attest to this method being efficient in most situations as I use it often at home and at work. Remember to be consistent and to follow through each time. This is the most important piece of the whole exercise! Parenting and disciplining children is a daunting task, but why not have a little fun doing it!
Here’s to parents and caregivers keeping the Faith!