In this article, you'll learn a bit about toddler tantrums and meltdowns. I'll also give you 10 Montessori-aligned tips on how to prevent and manage tantrums.
Toddlers are so stinking cute, with their little squeaky voices and tiny little hands – I love the toddler years.
But, there is, as with any stage of childhood, a downside – tantrums. They can be so challenging.
Every child has them and no child's tantrums are like another's.
Here are 10 Montessori-aligned tips to help you stop those terrible toddler tantrums and meltdowns!
Montessori-aligned tips for stopping toddler tantrums
Enough sleep can help with tantrums and meltdowns
This is probably the single most crucial piece of advice any parent can read.
You've heard it a thousand times, and have probably said it yourself twice that many: “Oh, he's just tired. He doesn't usually act like this.”
Young children can get a burst of adrenaline and cortisol when they are overtired.
They can act hyper, aggressive, and just out of control in general.
This creates a cycle of unnecessary meltdowns and unnecessary discipline. How stressful for everyone.
What can you do to stop this cycle?
You can create calm, consistent bedtime and naptime routines and have your child's nap and bedtime fall around the same time every day/night.
Turn off the TV to avoid toddler tantrums
Have you ever put on YouTube videos so you could have a moment of peace only to have even less peace than you started with after 10 minutes? I have.
That's because a child's brain isn't anywhere near finished developing. Most children's shows are designed to capture a child's attention through rapid image changes.
These shows cause sensory overload and can lead to major meltdowns!
You can help prevent over-stimulation by limiting or even eliminating screen time.
Should you choose to keep the tube on, try slower-paced shows, like Mr. Rogers or another quality show.
Model good behavior for your toddler
Remember the last time you argued with your spouse? You both raised your voices, maybe one of you slammed a door or even slammed something on the table in frustration?
Your toddler remembers.
You see, we adults throw tantrums, too. Not over running out of purple popsicles and being forced to choose between green and orange, but for other reasons.
Having small children puts relationships, finances, and careers to the test. This is a stressful time for the whole family.
Be cognizant of how you act in front of your toddler. Because whether or not he displays the behaviors he witnesses immediately, he has them cataloged.
Give your Toddler less “nos”
You've heard the expression “pick your battles.” Well, what if you simply had fewer battles to choose from?
Have you ever heard of “yes spaces“? They are areas of your house that your toddler can access without restrictions.
Basically, you put away things that you don't want your child to mess with and be ready to teach your child the proper way to handle things that are left out.
Less “nos” means fewer meltdowns.
Maintain consistent boundaries and rules to prevent toddler tantrums
Saying “no” less doesn't mean that you shouldn't set boundaries. It's all about balance – “freedom within limits“.
Toddlers often act as if they enjoy ruling the roost, but they actually crave limits and consistency.
If little Tommy is used to getting a toy each time you visit the store, he is going to have a hard time understanding when you tell him that you can't buy a toy for him this shopping trip.
Essentially, if you don't plan on always doing something, don't start doing it in the first place. At least until your kid is old enough to understand and accept change more readily.
Children of ages 1-3 don't do well with change.
This applies to house rules and other boundaries, too. If you don't want your toddler going into your bedroom, be consistent with redirecting them.
If you don't want your toddler pulling the cat's tail, be consistent with teaching them gentle behavior.
If you are just now starting to maintain consistent discipline with your toddler, don't get frustrated and give up when they meltdown.
Be kind, acknowledge their frustration with the new rule, and let them feel those emotions.
It won't take long for them to accept the new boundary and acclimate.
Toddlers will test boundaries, but they are looking to you to reinforce those boundaries. So, be there for them.
They need to know they can count on you to take control when they lose control!
Avoid over-stimulation to stop toddler tantrums and meltdowns
Have you ever taken your kid to another child's birthday party, a family gathering, or some other obnoxious place and had them suddenly crane their necks and begin chanting in languages from the underworld?
It's the same idea as with TV watching; sensory overload. If you want to help avoid tantrums, avoid overwhelming your toddler with stimuli.
Avoid letting your toddler get too hungry
Keep consistent meal and snack times. And when you are out and about, make sure to bring some snacks along.
Also, pay close attention to the timing of your toddler's tantrums.
If you notice that tantrums are happening close to mealtimes, maybe a small adjustment to the mealtime will solve the problem.
If your toddler is a hot mess when they wake up in the mornings, aim to have breakfast ready and waiting.
If your child melts down after naps, have a little plate of cut fruit and crackers waiting for them.
My middle child wakes up HANGRY and it's basically a race against the clock to get his blood sugar levels up to a decent level.
After he's got a little food in his belly, his mood improves! Easy fix!
Tell your toddler what is going to happen ahead of time
This makes a huge difference for toddlers – they love routines because they love the security of knowing what's going to happen next, and when something different is about to happen, they appreciate a fair warning.
Even if the day is going as planned, letting your toddler know ahead of time that it's time to get dressed, eat, go to bed, change diapers, etc., can help them transition to the next activity.
Transitions are hard for toddlers, but consistency can make all the difference.
Give your toddler plenty of time to think
Sometimes we overestimate our toddlers, especially when they begin to talk. We start to think of them as tiny adults.
They aren't, though. Their brains have decades of developing to do.
So, when you ask something of them, give them time to process the request and respond. Nobody likes to be rushed and toddlers are only capable of reacting so fast.
If your parenting method involves counting to 3 before imposing a consequence, make it a slow count to 3 – give your toddler ample time to make a good decision.
Don't do for your child what they can do for themselves
Sound time-consuming? It is. But it's worth it in the end, for them and you. This is key to stopping toddler tantrums.
Little kids like to do things “all by myself“. It makes them feel empowered and boosts their self-esteem, which in turn can decrease tantrums.
Toddlers can't really do much – And they are in control of very little in their lives.
Give them control over little things, like putting their socks on before going to the store or putting groceries in the cart, and they'll feel happy to be included in the process.
If you are parenting in a Montessori fashion, you already know about this tip.
Try these Montessori-aligned tips for stopping tantrums and start experiencing better days with your toddler!
Cheers and don't forget to subscribe!