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Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

Cohen will be three in June and is just SUCH a sweet little boy.

He loves to sing and play the guitar, give hugs and kisses and always says ” Bye. I wuv you. Thank you for playing with me” when anyone leaves our house after a visit.

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But when he doesn’t get to watch “Georgie”, or play with the “brice” (for some reason he calls rice, brice), or just isn’t in the mood to accept no as an answer – sometimes he loses his marbles.  I mean loses them – marbles all over the floor, rolling around, yelling and crying. It’s awesome.

When this first started I would feel my blood pressure rise and my mood start to shift. I’d feel angry, frustrated and want to immediately make the crying stop. Sometimes I’d give in and just let him have what he wanted (this is after trying to distract/divert him to no avail). Other times I’d put him in time out or tell him to stop crying.

Then I learned that kids need to have their tears.

Telling a child who isn’t getting their way to stop crying is like telling them not to feel. When I have a bad day or things don’t go my way, sometimes I need to just cry, or be alone, to just feel what I feel – and have a safe place to do it.

So now, instead of giving in or shutting down, I’m learning to create a safe place for my son to feel what he feels. To teach him that it’s okay to be frustrated and disappointed, it’s okay to cry when things don’t go your way, and even though the crying doesn’t mean you get your way, it also doesn’t mean you are any less loved and accepted.

From the outside it might look like my tantruming toddler is running the show, but just because he’s allowed to cry about my no, doesn’t mean I’m changing it to a yes. We can show love and affection to our frustrated toddler AND keep the original boundary we set. In the short term it seems like giving in or shutting down the tears would be so much easier, but even though they get upset, our children WANT boundaries. They want to know that when they protest, our yes is our yes and our no is our no. They want to know that we are their safe place.

How do you handle toddler tantrums? I’m so not an expert and would love to hear your thoughts/advice/ideas!

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5 thoughts on “Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

  1. This is very good advice! I really needed to hear this today after a rough couple days with my kids, so thank you, thank you!

  2. You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. Quick question – what do you mean when you say you provide a safe place? As in a physical location, or just that he’s free to express his emotion with you? I’m the kinda gal you have to spell stuff out for 😉

  3. I needed to read this tonight. I’ve been uncertain about how to teach my son that his feelings are valid and it’s ok to be upset, but that he has to work on controlling his behavior (like crying is ok, but throwing things when angry is not). Sometimes when teaching this lesson over and over I get frustrated but I think I need to let him have a little more safe space to feel what he feels. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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