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  • 6 Ways To Calm Toddler Meltdowns Without Losing Patience Yourself

    Your child needs you to be calm, confident, and consistent.
    by Kitty Elicay .
6 Ways To Calm Toddler Meltdowns Without Losing Patience Yourself
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  • Parents can’t help but worry when their toddler — their adorable angel — suddenly throws a fit and has a meltdown. But it’s actually a normal part of child development. Losing control, screaming, hitting, biting, and throwing objects is not uncommon for kids who have yet to learn how to handle their emotions. That’s because part of the brain responsible for impulse control and judgment is not yet done growing.

    “Since they don’t have a fully developed frontal cortex to help them self-regulate, children are even more prone to lashing out when they’re angry,” explains Dr. Laura Markham, a child psychologist and parenting expert, in an article for Aha! Parenting.

    It doesn’t mean, however, that your child gets away with their behavior. When a child becomes aggressive, he can pose a serious risk to himself and others, according to the Child Mind Institute. “It can be a scary, stressful experience for you and your child, too.”

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    How to calm toddler meltdowns without losing your cool

    Remember that toddlers do not always throw tantrums to manipulate you. Rather, they are unable to handle frustration or anger the way us adults do. When they are overwhelmed with feelings, they turn to us so that we can help teach them to calm down. Here’s what we can do.

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    1. Avoid responding to his distress with anger.

    Matching your child’s anger with your own will only make him more aggressive or defiant. Take a deep breath and stay calm. Show him that you can get your emotions under control to model — and teach — the type of behavior you want to see in them.

    2. Praise good behavior.

    Once your child has calmed down, praise him for doing a good job handling his emotions. Encourage him to share his feelings and tell you what happened. “Explaining the sequence of events slows children down and engages the thinking part of their brain,” says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist and author, for Psychology Today. “Express empathy so your child feels heard and comforted.”

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    3. Teach him to problem-solve.

    Talk to your child when he is in a good mood and try to help him communicate his feelings better. Together, you can come up with solutions so that he will avoid getting aggressive during tan outburst. Try saying, “What could you say to let your brother know that you didn’t like what he did?” or “What can you do to feel better?”

    Says Kennedy-Moore, “Responding to children’s anger with gentleness and compassion makes it easier for children to deal with strong feelings and think things through.”

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    4. Put them on timeout.

    Nonviolent tantrums can be ignored, but when a child is getting physical, it is best to put them in a safe environment where they cannot access you or any other potential rewards, according to Dr. Vasco Lopes, a clinical psychologist. It can be a chair in the corner or an empty room — make sure it is a space where he can calm down, but without any distractions or rewards, like toys or games. Let them stay there for a minute, and let them out when they done having a meltdown.

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    “What this does is gives your child an immediate and consistent consequence for her aggression and it removes all access to reinforcing things in her environment,” explains Dr. Lopes.

    5. Learn their triggers.

    According to Dr. Lopes, tantrums and meltdowns happen at very predictable times, so parents must observe their children closely. Maybe it happens when they are asked to do their homework, right before bedtime, or when they are asked to stop playing. Time warnings (“we are going to prepare for bed in 10 minutes), breaking down tasks into one-step directions, (“first, brush your teeth), and preparing your children for situations can all help avoid meltdowns.

    6. Be confident and consistent.

    Disciplining a toddler who is having a meltdown can be difficult and exhausting, but becoming a confident, calm, and consistent parent will lead you to success. Extending your patience makes a big difference — it can help you have a better relationship with your child and make the home happier.

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    If your child becomes aggressive, it may be a result of how you treat them. Click here to avoid harsh parenting.

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