Papaya will be turning two in just a few months. Like most other toddlers, we have been experiencing more and more tantrums over the last few months. I quickly came to realize that I could get upset and the tantrums would be difficult for both of us or I could keep my cool and help her deal with her big emotions. Here’s how I found my peace and learnt to deal with temper tantrums more effectively.
Why Do Toddlers Throw Tantrums?
Not unlike other almost two-year-olds, Papaya’s tantrums come from a place of frustration. Children between the ages of one and three have limited language skills. The inability to properly express themselves is one of the most common reasons why your child may be having meltdowns on a regular basis.
Once you understand this point it becomes impossible not to have empathy for your toddler. Just imagine if you wanted something and nobody around you could understand what you wanted. I don’t know about you, but if that were my life day after day, I would also cry and stamp my feet.
Other common triggers for tantrums include:
Mindfulness and Why It Works For Tantrums
Being more mindful is the practice of bringing your focus to the present moment. You may think that the only thing you can do to help you be more mindful is to practice meditation but that is not true. Doing simple things like being totally present when you eat or doing a few breathing exercises each day are great ways to become more present.
I find that mindfulness is one of the most effective ways to deal with a difficult toddler. When I am present in the moment I am more attentive to Papaya’s needs, I have more empathy, and most importantly, I am calm.
You as the parent, have the responsibility to teach your child self-regulation. If you resort to screaming and getting angry at them when they melt down what are you modelling? Certainly not how to behave appropriately when you get upset.
Being calm really is the secret to helping your little person to deal with their big emotions. Mindfulness helps you to teach your toddler how to deal with their own feelings. It also shows them that they are able to trust that you will remain stable no matter how upset they are.
How To Practice Mindfulness With Your Toddler
When Papaya is in the midst of a meltdown I will often just sit next to her and begin doing my own breathing exercises. Deep belly breathing helps me to take a moment to collect myself. It also a great way to model calm breathing to a toddler who is frustrated and is not listening to your words.
Sometimes when she is really upset she likes to be held. In these situations breathing exercises are even more effective. We have some time to connect and she will often naturally fall into the same breathing pattern as I am modelling.
This does not always work to calm Papaya down. That is totally fine. The most important part is that it helps me to become present in the moment and act rationally when there is chaos around me.
This is a favourite of mine. When I see the warning signs of a tantrum I will take Papaya out into the garden. We’ll take a few minutes just to walk around. Then I ask her to help me look for things in our garden that will engage all of her senses.
We look for:
Eyes- birds or planes
Ears - buzzing bees or walking over gravel
Nose - flowers or leaves on citrus trees
Hands - I let her touch different leaves and tree trunks
Taste - We always end our nature walks with picking and eating the warm cherry tomatoes that were planted by the birds
By the time our walk is over, Papaya has forgotten why she was upset and we can carry on with our day.
I love doing meditations that make you aware of your body parts. When I am feeling anxious I will switch on a Yoga Nidra guided meditation. It really helps me so I figured there was no harm in trying it with Papaya.
Obviously, your two-year-old will not be able to lie down and do a full-length meditation. Here is my variation on a body scanning meditation for your toddler.
When she gets upset and is about to go into a full meltdown I ask her to stand in front of me. Then we go through her body parts starting from her toes all the way to her hair. It’s great. She instantly forgets about being upset and is fully in the moment.
Depending on how upset she is one run through is usually enough. When things are really tough we’ll do it twice, or as often as is necessary.
I love this technique because not only does it help her to become fully present in the moment but it is also great for developing her language skills and awareness of her body in relation to her society.
A Note To End With
Although I am able to navigate my way through many tantrums by using these strategies, I am far from perfect. I am a real mom and sometimes a tantrum ends with both of us in tears. However, I feel like using these strategies help to make me a better and calmer mamma. I think you may find that it helps you as well.
Have you found a golden strategy that helps you through your toddlers' tantrums? Feel free to share your tips in the comments section. Make sure to like my Facebook page to stay updated on my latest news.