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My toddler tantrums when I say no: Why does it happen and how to deal with it

All parents have been there – you’re out in public and your toddler has a meltdown because you said no to something they wanted. It can be embarrassing, but tantrums are a normal part of toddler development.

When it comes to toddler tantrums, saying “no” can often be the trigger. Whether it’s being told they can’t have a candy before dinner or being asked to stop playing and take a nap, toddlers can quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated. And when they don’t know how to express that frustration, a tantrum is often the result.

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to be a good parent but they just don’t seem to understand. It can be difficult to know how to handle these tantrums. I’ve certainly said and done things I regret during these trying times.

Here’s what you need to know about why toddlers tantrum, and how to handle it:

Why do toddlers throw tantrums when told no?

Some experts believe that tantrums are a way for toddlers to release their feelings and regain a sense of control. Others believe that tantrums are a result of a toddler’s lack of self-control. However, tantrums can happen for many reasons and the root cause of it is simply because toddlers are still learning how to communicate and express their needs. Toddlers are young children who are developing their own sense of self. They want to be independent and in control, but they don’t yet have the ability to cope with frustration. When they’re told “no,” it can feel like their whole world is collapsing. They may lash out in anger or frustration, trying to regain a sense of control. They could also be testing the boundaries to see how much they can get away it. Or, if they are feeling like you’re distracted, it may be a way to get your attention. When you’re tired and annoyed, you get upset a lot easier. It’s the same with your kids. I know when my children were tired, hungry or uncomfortable in some way (from teething, being constipated, etc.), they would have meltdowns a lot easier and these tantrums would last a lot longer. It’s important to remember that tantrums are a normal part of childhood development. With some patience and understanding, they can be resolved quickly. grayscale photo of girl in polka dot long sleeve shirt

How to deal with your toddler meltdown when you say no

When your toddler starts to meltdown, it can be tough to deal with. There are a few things you can do to help cope and get through the tough times.

Stay calm

First, try to stay calm yourself. It’s important to model the behavior you want to see from your child. If you get angry or upset, it will only escalate the situation. Avoid reacting emotionally. Stay firm but understanding, and make sure you keep your voice low so as not to provoke further reactions from your child.

Try to understand why your toddler is upset

Yes, your toddler is having a meltdown because you said no. But what is the underlying reason for their tantrum? Is it because they are tired, hungry or didn’t get enough attention? It could be that they are constipated, not feeling well or reacting to your stress. 

Stick to your no

While it may very tempting to give in when your toddler is screaming his head off, especially if you’re in public, try your best not to. God knows I’ve given in more than a few times and live to regret it. Everyone, especially kids, need to have firm boundaries. If you sometimes give in when they throw a tantrum, it will encourage them to meltdown more often in the hopes that they may sometimes get what they want. Lose-lose situation.

Try to distract them with something else

Try distracting your toddler by showing them something new, doing something funny, or even just ignoring them and starting a new interesting activity by yourself. This will pique their curiosity and help them forget about why they were so upset to begin with. kid, soap bubbles, girl-1241817.jpg

Discuss the tantrum after they calm down

There is no point in trying to reason with your child when he or she is in meltdown mode. However, after they have calmed down, always make sure you address the tantrum. Talk to your toddler about why you’re saying no. Explain that it’s for their own good and that it’s not worth getting upset over. Because the answer is still no.

Show them there are consequences

Then, I punish them. Sounds harsh? It only has to be a small thing like not being able to watch TV for half a day. Or having a toy confiscated for the night. The point is to show your toddler that everything they do or don’t do comes with consequences.

What to say to your toddler during their tantrum

When your toddler is having a tantrum, it can be hard to know what to do. Sometimes saying the right thing can calm them down and stop the outburst from happening again. Here are some tips on what to say during a tantrum:

  • Tell them that you understand how they feel and that you love them no matter what. I find the best way to ‘say’ this is to hug them and kiss their forehead. I sometimes say ‘mummy love you’ or ‘I understand that you’re upset. It’s OK to feel angry/sad/frustrated.’
  • Talk about their feelings in terms of concrete examples like ‘You’re feeling angry because I said you can’t eat chocolate before dinner.’ 
  • Try to calm them down by saying ‘let’s take a deep breath together.’

What not to do during toddler tantrums when you say no

Parenting a toddler can be challenging at the best of times, and dealing with tantrums can be one of the most frustrating parts. But it’s important to remember that there are some things you should never do during a tantrum, as they will only make the situation worse. If you’re struggling to deal with your toddler’s tantrums, here are some things you should avoid doing:

  • Don’t give in to their demands. It will only encourage them to throw more tantrums when they don’t get what they want.
  • Don’t try to argue with them or shout at them when they are in the middle of a meltdown. It will aggravate the situation and they will cry even louder.
  • And definitely avoid hitting your child. There are plenty of ways you can resolve the situation without resorting to physical violence. Being abusive towards your child will only traumatize them and affect their wellbeing in the long run. 

To wrap up

You should never feel guilty for saying no to your toddler. Even if they throw a tantrum, it’s unfortunately a normal part of development and tantrums are simply a way for toddlers to express their frustration. With patience and understanding, you can help your toddler through this phase.

Sharon James

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