By DOUG VOLLMAYER and ANGELINE JANE BERNABE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — For parents of toddlers, tantrums are messy, loud and can be overwhelming. They’re something that toddler moms Ana Florence and Chelsea Anderson know all too well.
“I have a 2-year-old — little Miss Rylee,” said Florence. “And she is constantly telling me ‘no.'”
“I’m willing to try anything,” added Anderson, who is a mom to two twin toddlers as well as two newborn twins.
Having toddlers who constantly have tantrums can be a handful for all parents, but child therapist and mom-to-be Deena Margolin and parenting coach and mom of two Kristin Gallent, who are pros at taming tantrums, say your kids’ meltdowns can be managed.
“It doesn’t have to be that hard,” Gallent told ABC News’ Good Morning America.
To help parents, the two experts started “Big Little Feelings,” where they share their top tips for toddler problems with their nearly 270,000 followers. Topics include everything from separation anxiety and weaning off the pacifier to potty training.
Read on for some of their tips on how to deal with tantrums:
How to get your toddler to put the iPad away
Gallent said the most common trigger for a meltdown is transitioning from one activity to another, such as putting the iPad away to do something else. So, she suggests first to “OK the feeling.”
Gallent said to tell your toddler, “I hear that you’re sad that iPad is all done. It’s OK to feel sad.”
Then, she said to “set the boundary” and stay firm that iPad time is over, no matter how hard they push or cry or yell.
The final step is to “shift to yes,” and tell them it’s time to do something else by saying, “It’s time to go outside. Do you want to play bubbles or do you want to do sandbox?,” said Gallent. “You’re taking their brains from ‘no, no, no,’ to ‘Oh, this is my choice. I get to go choose and do this next thing.'”
The timer trick
For toddlers that get upset about transitioning, Gallent and Margolin suggests using the timer trick even before a tantrum begins.
“You’re going to let them push that button to start the timer because it feels like it’s their decision,” said Margolin, who explained that this method keeps toddlers feeling like they’re involved and in control. “When the timer goes off, have your toddler push the off button. This can work like magic instead of them fighting back.”
To get your kid to stop doing bothersome behaviors to get your attention, like whining, poking and pinching, give them the positive attention they crave.
Margolin and Gallent suggests to carve out 10 focused minutes, let your toddler pick a name for this special time, then give them all your love and attention. If you do this every day, they begin to expect it. By filling up what Margolin and Gallent call your toddlers’ “attention tanks” in a positive way (as opposed to lashing out), they will no longer feel a need to do those annoying things to get your attention.
To avoid bedtime battles, have your child build or draw a chart of the steps they need to do before bed and let them choose the order.
Then, Margolin and Gallent suggest you carry out those things in that order, which makes them feel like they’re making their own decisions. After each task is done on their list, put a sticker or checkmark next to it — this makes it feel like you’ve made a game out of preparing for bedtime.
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…
Margolin and Gallent’s final tip is for toddlers who don’t want to take liquid medicine. They understand how difficult that can get. So, to make the process a bit easier, they suggest putting some sprinkles in it. The sprinkles sink to the bottom of the cup, which forces them to drink all of the medicine in order to get to them.
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