As a parent you give your children a good start in life—you nurture, protect and guide them. Parenting is a process that prepares your child for independence. As your child grows and develops, there are many things you can do to help your child. These links will help you learn more about your child’s development, positive parenting, safety, and health at each stage of your child’s life.
The Real Reason Your Toddler Says No To Everything
If you have a toddler, I am sure you have heard the word “No” more than you care. NO!NO!NO! Some days it feels as if this is the only word your toddler even knows. She wants her opinion to be known and she is going to let you know, but why does your toddler says no to everything? What is she trying to tell you?
Why Your Toddler Says No to Everything
Before we figure out how to reduce the “No” we have to understand it. As frustrating as it can be and as defiant and strong-willed as it seems, there are actually many reasons why your toddler says no to everything . Your toddler is not being “bad”, “naughty”, or even “defiant”. Instead there are many reasons that your toddler is using this word as a go to response!
1.Her communication is limited. Your toddler list learning words that express her feelings. She wants to let you know all about her wants and needs but she just doesn’t have the words yet. “No” is simple and straight forward and they learn early that this word has meaning.
2. It’s psychology 101. As defiant as this seems this is not a portrayal of your poor parenting skills. In fact according to researcher Theodore Dix, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, defiant behavior among very young children appears to be a positive development.
3. He has heard it frequently. You aren’t the only one that doesn’t like hearing “No”. Without realizing it you might be using the word a lot more than you even realize. There are many positive alternatives to “No” that are still assertive and help your child learn boundaries and rules.
4. She needs to feel in control. Your toddler has learned what it feels like to make decisions and she likes it. Every time she gets to make a decision it gives her self confidence a boost! Her saying “no” is a simple way for her to feel important and strong.
5. He is NOT being Bad! In fact, according to Janet Lansbury, the author of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline without Shame , would argue that there are many reasons your toddler is acting out and finding the positive way of dealing with it will ensure you and your child have a healthy budding relationship.
How Can You Stop Your Toddler From Saying No to Everything?
When I first started this post, I was going to share 1 strategy we have been using to help our toddler through this trying phase. However, once I started gathering everything together, I realized just how much information there is I can share about toddler struggles. I have decided to turn this into a mini-series. Next week, I plan to share a simple strategy to reducing the frequency of “No” that has worked like a charm in our home.
I am sure you are saying, but wait… I want help now! My toddler is driving me bonkers! Guess what, you have the knowledge to get started! Now that you know the “why” behind the “no”, let’s learn more about the “when”.
This week’s challenge: This week’s challenge is 2 parts. It is our goal to get to the bottom of this and truly understand the what and why of our toddler behavior (and our reactions to it).
Challenge #1: Pay close attention to how often you tell your toddler no. Keep a tally sheet if you need to. Although I try to use positive parenting, I was surprised to find out just how often I actually tell her “no” on a daily basis. How many times did you say no in one hour, one day, one week? Come tell me! I won’t judge!
Challenge #2: Now pay close attention to your toddler. When is she saying no the most? Where is she saying no? What is happening before and after the no? In your journal, jot this down. Keep it simple or you won’t want to do it every day.
Example: When: Before Nap Question: It’s Time for Nap Response: NO!
Remember, you are not alone! This is not just happening to your toddler and you are not a bad parent! Together we can enjoy parenting and find the small things that make us smile!
More Adventures in Parenting Toddlers
Self-control activities for kids: Easy ways to teach children how to control their emotions and behaviors
Some of the most frustrating moments in my interactions with my son are those moments when his behavior is completely out of control. No matter what I say or do, nothing seems to really get to him and help him calm down.
I can clearly see that he is struggling to manage his emotions, but his chaotic behavior makes it very hard for me to connect with him. The more agitated or overwhelmed he becomes, the more difficult it is for me to manage the situation.
So I decided to do my best to prevent them from happening and focus more on teaching my son how to control his emotions and reactions.
At his age, he is still learning about self-control and emotional regulation, so it’s impossible to completely avoid these challenging moments. But I noticed that teaching him how to get better at controlling his impulses and managing his emotions had a great positive impact on his behavior.
Self-regulation is one of the most precious skills that we can teach our kids because it impacts their lives in so many ways!
Their ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors plays a huge role in their relationships with other people, their success in school (and later in life), and most of all, their ability to overcome challenging moments in their lives.
It takes time and guidance for kids to develop their self-regulation skills, so they need plenty of opportunities to practice these skills and learn new strategies they can use.
This is why I’ve gathered here a list of self-control activities for kids that worked great for us, and I hope they will inspire you to try them with your children as well!
1. The best tool for teaching kids to regulate their emotions
When kids are overwhelmed by emotions and their behavior is completely out of control, they are not emotionally available to listen to our guidance. So no parenting methods will really work until they manage to calm down and reconnect with us.
The best way to help them learn to regulate their emotions is by creating a calm down corner (or toolkit) for them to use anytime they need.
The way the toolkit looks like depends on the child’s age and needs.
If you have young kids, the Time-In Toolkit created by Generation Mindful is one of the best resources for helping them develop their emotional regulation skills!
2. Self-control activities for kids: Practice self-control with easy games
Using a playful approach is one of the most effective ways to teach kids new skills.
Here are some easy games that you can play at home with your kids to help them develop their self-control:
red light, green light
Also, you can use family games like Jenga, Rhino Hero, Operation, or Suspend to encourage kids to develop their self-regulation skills and teach them how to take turns, follow rules, handle frustration, and control impulses.
3. Use visual reminders at home to help kids manage their emotions better
When emotions run high, kids can’t really control their behavior because the emotional part of their brain takes control over the rational part.
To prevent things from getting out of control, you can use visual reminders to help kids keep track of their emotions. When you observe that your child is starting to struggle with controlling their feelings or behaviors, invite them to an “emotion check-in” using a visual reminder.
Here are 2 ways to do this:
Option #1: Use a picture of a traffic light as a visual reminder and display it in your home
Invite the child to tell you if their emotions are in the green zone (feeling calm and happy), yellow zone (feeling a little bit angry or upset), or in the red zone (their behavior is out of control and they feel overwhelmed by anger or other strong feelings).
If the emotions are in the yellow zone, the child needs to “slow down” and find ways to shift their state to a calmer one (with your help, if necessary).
If the emotions are in the red zone ,the child needs to “push the brake pedal” and focus on managing their strong feelings using one of the self-regulation strategies they learned (with your help until they learn to use them on their own).
Option #2: Use a picture of a superhero to remind kids they have the power to control their emotions
When emotions run high, remind your child that they can be a self-control superhero and regain control of their emotions.
Offer them your support by suggesting different calming strategies and encouraging them to put them into practice.
4. Use brain breaks to help kids calm down
Sometimes the daily schedule can become overwhelming for kids, especially at an early age. When they get tired or overstimulated, their behavior reflects this in a negative way.
This is why offering them opportunities to relax and regain control of their behavior using physical activities is very helpful for their emotional development and mental health.
One easy way to do this is to implement “brain breaks” or “movement breaks” in your home.
Brain breaks are a great tool that many teachers use in the classroom, but using them at home brings many benefits as well.
The easiest way to implement this idea is to create a list of brain break activities for your child and use it anytime you need it.
5. Discuss different scenarios that teach kids self-control and improve their self-regulation skills
One effective way to teach kids how to control their emotions and behaviors is by offering them easy strategies to use when facing challenging moments.
You can do this by reading books that focus on self-regulation (see the list below) or using role-play to encourage kids to develop their emotional skills.
Talking about emotions with your kids is a great opportunity to encourage them to open up about their struggles and to find together possible solutions for them to use when they face challenges.
I came across this quote from author L.R. Knost not long ago and it has become my mantra for calming meltdowns, tantrums and anything in between.
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it is our job to share our calm not join their chaos.”
Tantrums are a completely normal part of child development. It’s how our little ones express themselves over anything from discomfort to simply not getting what they want. But that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting, frustrating and down right chaotic to try and diffuse them. Sometimes the response that our children need the most is the hardest to offer in the moment.
In my experience, the most effective method for disarming a tantrum is a calming, positive approach. Here are 5 Simple Tips for Taming Tantrums that may help to deescalate meltdowns and preserve your sanity.
1.) Remain Calm
It is entirely true that children feed off of our emotions. If we treat a child’s tantrum with fierce anger and frustration it is possible to intensify the tantrum rather than mitigate it. Try to remove all emotion and focus on yourself, especially the guilt or embarrassment which can heighten feelings of overwhelm (remember, every parent has been there!) Your child isn’t tryingto give you a tough time, they’re having a tough time.
2.) Use Positive Language Alternatives
Avoid the use of “no” if at all possible and try these positive language alternatives.
3.) Try a Calming Diversion
Does your child have a favorite book or comforting blanket? Offering these items could help console a child during a tantrum. Other tools could be a calming jar (such as these), relaxation activities such as deep breaths or yoga poses, essential oils, and songs. When the meltdown occurs in a public place without access to these tools, try removing them from the environment in which the situation began. If your child runs, throws or hits during a meltdown assess surroundings to ensure safety before approaching.
Hugging is an excellent use of diversion, but always ask if they need a hug beforehand. Studies have shown that proprioceptive input through hugging is extremely helpful for regulating the senses and helping tame a tantrum. Something as simple as a tight squeeze can provide a sense of calm & return your child to the moment.
4.) Observing and Learning
Is there a pattern or trend for where these tantrums occur? Say, in the toy section at Target or when deciding on what to wear in the morning? Research indicates that events leading up to a tantrum can be critical to whether or not it actually occurs. Noticing where and when your child is likely to have a tantrum is essential in diffusing or avoiding it altogether. Maybe bypass the toys next time at the store, or offer options on outfits in the morning so your child feels in control. Another thing to keep in mind is choosing battles wisely. Ask yourself this question:
Will this decision impact my child down the road?
Examples: Something like, wearing a helmet on the tricycle could potentially have long term effects and is probably a battle to be fought. Forcing a child to hug a relative before they leave (and thus inducing an incident) is likely not life altering. Maybe have a conversation later about hugging and why we show affection instead of ensnaring yourself in an emotionally escalated situation.
5.) Consistency and Not Caving
A sure-fire way to keep the tantrums coming is to cave or give in to the tantrum. For example, if a child melts down in the candy aisle begging for a lollipop, giving her the lollipop will underline the negative behavior and reinforce it for next time. If the child is denied the lollipop repeatedly, it’s possible for them to learn that a tantrum in this particular instance will not get them what they want. Be consistent and confident with your choices as you know best for the child, not vice versa.
Hey mama, taming tantrums can be tough! Check out our Mental Health Task List to encourage self care and preserve your sanity!
How to Handle a Tantrum or Meltdown Like a Rockstar
We’ve all been there. Suddenly your child throws themselves to the floor, lets out a blood curdling scream, and starts to yell and cry. Even worse… its happening in the middle isle of Target. What are you to do? How are you supposes to respond? If you are like me, and so many others, you are looking for how to handle a tantrum or meltdown like a rockstar… but you just haven’t found the perfect formula yet.
First thing you must know… you are not alone! Not at all!
We are in the middle of our three day series on Calming the Chaos with your child who has tantrums and meltdowns. If you are just joining us, or if you missed the first video… go back and watch it! It is super important because it laid the ground-work for identifying the difference between tantrums and meltdowns.
It is my goal from this video series to help you recognize what is going on with your child, dig deeper to get to the underlying problem, fear, or anxiety. it is my goal to provide to you with the tools you need to help you calm the chaos, reconnect with your child, and build a happier home.
As an Educator I have dealt with my fair share of tantrums and meltdowns in the fifteen years that I have worked with parents and children. My own children also have had their own fair share of tantrums and meltdowns including my son who struggles with anxiety and sensory processing disorder.
In the last video, we talked about the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown. Often times they’re seen as two very different things but when we really dig deep we see that they are very similar. In both cases, the child is telling us. “I need your help”
Today, I want to focus on skills that you can develop to handle your child’s tantrum or meltdown like a rock star. I am going to teach you what to do what do say and what to avoid. I want to talk about what to do when you are at home, when you are in public, and even what to do when you are at the in-laws. These are things you can do right now to make a positive change in your life.
We have a ton of ground work to cover, today … so let’s dig in! (If you are tight on time, don’t forget to come back and watch this later, and download the free guide to help you the next time your child has a tantrum or meltdown)
All in all, I wish I could tell you that there is a perfect formula to stop a meltdown in its tracks or to calming a child during the middle of one… but, there’s not. In fact, it takes time to learn exactly what works best with your child through trial and error. It is my goal to give you strategies you can try today while you learn more about your child and their meltdowns.
How Can You Handle a Tantrum Like a Rockstar?
What to Do, What to Say and What to Avoid with Tantrums (notes from the video)
What to Do During a Tantrum
Focus on yourself. As the adult you have to get yourself to a calm place, removing all emotion. If keeping yourself calm is a struggle, I highly recommend my 25 Simple Ways to Remain Calm Yourself
Assess the needs of your child.
Is it environmental
Is it a want/desire
Is it attention seeking
Is it a physical need?
Is it anxiety driven? What is the TRUE need your child has?
Try a diversion. From babies to ten year olds diversion has some pretty great power in parenting. This strategy is great for either the beginning or end of a tantrum as it works great for children able to reason and hear your requests.
Give your child space. A quietness between the two of you, sitting on the other side of the room, or even stepping just one step away can be highly effective.
What to Say During a Tantrum
Be brief and to the point. There are a few things you can say during a tantrum that can be extremely helpful, however, it is important to keep things matter of fact and to the point so your child can hear what you are telling them.
Acknowledge your child. “I see that you are frustrated” “ I notice that you are mad” “it is okay to be upset”
Be clear and Firm. When trying to work through the tantrum be very clear about your expectations and be very firm. “We do have to leave this place right now, however we can come back later”
What to Avoid During a Tantrum
Remove ALL emotion. Your child is not giving you a hard time, your child is having a hard time.
Avoid blaming the child for their actions. I really would encourage you to to try to take blame out of dealing with a situation because it’s not going to help at all. When this is your thought pattern and your child is struggling and you are going to say “quit being a brat”. which will cause your child to shut down even more. In the end, adding to the problem and making it even more difficult to get to the root cause.
How Can You Handle a Meltdown Like a Rockstar?
What to Do, What to Say and What to Avoid with Meltdowns (notes from the video)
Remember, when your child is melting down they are completely cognitively and emotionally out of control. They’re processors are at max capacity. the most important part to remember is that in this state, their brain is no longer able to cope with what’s going on around them.
What to Do During a Meltdown
Make sure your child is safe. This might mean you need to remove you and your child from the situation. Find somewhere where your child has space to deal with their emotions.
Let them be upset. If everyone is safe, it is OK for them to have feelings. You want to give them the space they need to feel what they are feeling and reconnect after the meltdown.
On the other hand, if your child is not being safe, if you are not safe, or others around your child are not safe…your number one goal becomes making the area they are in safe.
Evacuate the surroundings. It will be easier to get the environment cleared than to get the child to a safe place.
Remove the dangerous items
Remove objects that could be damaged
Remove other children siblings
Do not engage. The minute you engage… the situation will escalate and now no one is safe.
Give your child space. Space is your friend during a meltdown, however it can be extremely tricky to maneuver. If you have a child that runs during a meltdown, space can be a very scary thing. It is important to know ahead of time, where a safe place for your child would be and teach them how to get to that space and use it.
Try a calming diversion. These could be things like a calm down jar, calming music, essential oils, their favorite book or even their favorite stuffed animal. However, be prepared for a child in the middle of a meltdown to refuse any “item” being offered to them when they are in their heightened state.
Tight squeezes. It’s proven that proprioceptive input through things such as tight squeezes, weighted blankets, and pressure on the joints, is extremely helpful for regulating the senses and helping calm a meltdown. It is important to only use these methods and strategies when you (the adult) are in a calm place to help your child use them appropriately.
What to Say During a Meltdown
Keep your chatter to a minimum. Instead of talking to them about the problem or responding to the emotion… what you can do is focus them on their body, focus on them and focus on their breathing. Talk to your child in a very quiet, calm voice.
“I am here when you are ready for me.”“Take a deep breath.”“I notice you are very frustrated.”“I’m here.”“It’s okay to feel this way.”“Relax your hands.”“Relax your feet.”
“You are safe.”
These are just a few of the starter sentences we talk about in the Calm the Chaos courses, but they are highly effective when you are in a crisis situation.
What to Avoid During a Meltdown
Don’t let your own emotions take over. Just like with tantrums it’s really easy to get emotionally charged but especially in a meltdown. It can be very easy to get very emotional yourself and react instead of respond to your child’s needs.
Remove all guilt and all embarrassment. Know you are being the best parent that you can be. and your doing the best job you can for your child.
Don’t try to reason with your child. Scientists have proven that when a child is having a meltdown their brain is not able to actually hear or respond to the things that you were saying to them. Their logic is gone.
I have made a simple printable for you that shares exactly how tantrums (especially those emotionally charged or anxiety driven) and meltdowns can look so similar and at the root, are both signals. Your child is saying… I need you!
This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
Frequently Asked Questions :
What if I just threw a tantrum like they are doing. Won’t that stop them from doing it again?
This might work. However it wont work everytime. And this does not teach your child how to communicate effectively. And this does not help you connect with your child.
Do you handle meltdowns different depending on if they are at home or in public?
If you are in public, you may want to leave to the car, or find a restroom so that you can allow yourself and your child the space to go through the emotions and deal with the situation appropriately.
I want you to remember in that moment you are there for your child you are not there for any of those strangers. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It just doesn’t matter, most likely you’re never gonna see those people again.
So remain calm and if you have to… tell the bystander what you need from, tell them if you need them to go get something, tell them if you need to find you a quiet space to go, tell them if you need them to stand in front of your, tell them you need their help!
This can be extremely tough. In fact, this is something we have struggled with in our own home many times. The truth is… if your child is not accepting your help or your strategies… they are simply not ready. They are still in crisis mode and are not able to hear you or respond to your help.
The best solution would be to get to the problem ahead of time. Teaching your child strategies to use in the moment will be your best bet, so you can simply remind them of the tools they already have. However, this doesn’t happen over night. It’s something I go over in depth in my calm the chaos courses, these are just a few solutions to help you in the NOW.
So let’s recap… So far in this series, we have talked about how to tell the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown and how to look for underlying causes of both. Today, we went over how to handle a tantrum or a meltdown like a rockstar and tools and strategies you can start using today. I know it can seem like a lot of information and can be overwhelming.
I don’t want you to worry about that. The truth is… you don’t have to get all of this perfect to bring calm back in your life. In fact, many parents have told me that they pick and choose what is best for them once they have all the tools in front of them.
Now, lets talk about the next video. I am really excited about this one and think it is going to be your favorite video yet. In our final video of this series, I am going to share my blueprint for calming the chaos. If you have a child that has tantrums and meltdowns frequently, you will want what I have to share. It could be life changing for bringing calm back in your home.
I’m really excited about that for now hear from you in the comments below. tell me about a time your child had a tantrum or meltdown and one question you still have for me. Let me know how how I can help you calm the chaos with your child who is having tantrums and meltdowns.