There are times when you can prevent a child from losing control of his emotions, and ward off tantrums before they even begin. If you modify the situation that leads up to a meltdown you can keep your child calm and happy. Here are some tips to preserve the peace:
- Keep the same nap times and bed time seven days a week. A consistent sleep schedule is critical for keeping your child even-tempered throughout the day.
- Feed your child frequently. Children have tiny tummies and need regular nourishment to keep blood sugar levels stable. Five small meals, or three meals plus two healthy snacks, keep a child’s moods stable, much more so than three big meals with long periods between them.
- Give your child toys and games that are geared to his age and ability level. Frustration with toys that are difficult, or boredom with too-easy toys can lead to meltdowns.
- Warn your child before changing activities to allow him time to adjust. (“One more swing, then we’re going home.”)
- Be patient when putting your child in an unfamiliar environment or when introducing him to new people. Don’t push him to do what’s uncomfortable for him.
- Be prepared. If you expect to be running errands all day, or spending time talking with other adults, or if you’ll be standing in long lines, bring along snacks, books and toys in your bag to keep your child occupied.
- Be thoughtful about scheduling. Asking a two-year-old to be pleasant while you spend an entire day on the run is a bit much. Schedule a break, such as a quick stop to the park, when possible.
- Try to be home at naptime and bedtime. Keeping a tired child on the move invites trouble. This can’t always be avoided, but steer clear of it when you can!
- Help your child learn new skills before you ask him to do them on his own (such as pouring juice, getting dressed, or working puzzles).
- Keep your expectations realistic; don’t expect more than your child is capable of.
- Don’t underestimate your child’s abilities. Allow him the opportunities and privileges that are appropriate for his age.
- As much as possible, keep a regular and predictable schedule to your child’s day. Having key events, such as naptime, meal time and outdoor play can regulate a child’s moods.
- When your child becomes overly emotional, keep yourself as calm as possible. Use a soothing tone of voice and a gentle touch to help your child calm down. He can’t do it on his own, he needs your help.
Elizabeth Pantley is author of the bestselling book The No-Cry Sleep Solution and 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution series, which helps moms and dads through all key stages of parenting. http://nocrysolution.com