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Minimizing Temper Tantrums: Giving Your Toddler Choices


By Rachel Paxton

Oh, the terrible two's. As a mom of twin toddlers, I wasn't particularly looking forward to my boys turning two. As their third birthday approaches, I now realize that it wasn't really as bad as I had been expecting. I don't think temper tantrums can ever be eliminated completely, but there are some things you can do to minimize and sometimes even avoid them.

One of the best ways I have found to avoid a toddler tantrum is by giving my boys choices. When you give your toddler a choice, he feels like he has some control over the situation, and is much less likely to throw a fit to get his way. This solution does have a catch, however.

When you are giving your toddler a choice between two options, don't offer him anything you don't want to give him. At this young age, they don't yet understand that you are in fact getting them to do what you wanted in the first place. Yet, they think it was their idea. (You have to be sneakier about it when they get older, but this also works on older kids!)

I have listed below a number of scenarios I often find myself in with my boys. They fall for it almost every time!

One of my boys is very clingy and wants me to hold him all of the time. When we are at the grocery store and he wants to get out of the grocery cart, he wants me to hold me. I tell him he can either sit in the cart or walk and hold my hand. This usually distracts him from wanting me to hold him.

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Most kids hate wearing hats, and it is often hard to get them to wear them outside. If I want my boys to wear a hat, they each have several to choose from and I let them pick out which one they want to wear. Sometimes it may take 10 minutes for them to decide, but they are both happy in the end (and so am I).

Food and eating can be big issues when parenting toddlers. A toddler can drive you nuts trying to get him to eat what you want him to. I have found that giving them acceptable choices usually gets them to eat what I want them to eat. If I want them to eat a vegetable, I let them choose between two vegetables. Having clear expectations also helps. If you tell them to eat two more bites before they eat dessert, they will usually cooperate quite easily.

Getting a toddler into the bedroom at night can also be a challenge. If you entice them into their room by letting them choose a book for you to read to them, you will probably have few complaints. After a story or two they are usually ready to settle down for bed.

If your toddler is starting to have a tantrum, try to distract him as quickly as possible. Try to get him interested in an engaging activity. Make sure that he is not hungry or tired.

Toddlers thrive on routine. Try keep them on as regular as a daily schedule or routine as possible, with regular sleeping times, eating times, and play times.

Establishing a daily routine for your toddler, as well as giving him choices as much as possible, will result in a happier and much more well behaved toddler.

© Rachel Paxton
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and Christian wife and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, organizing tips, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at creativehomemaking.com.

 

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