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February 2013 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Mommy 101

Tips to stop toddler tantrums

The terrible twos

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I think the terrible twos have arrived early. My sweet little girl has developed a whole other side to her that’s not so sweet.

A few months ago, a friend asked several other moms for tips on how to deal with her toddler who had taken a liking to repeatedly biting her. Most moms advised on biting him back! Understandably, she didn’t want to do that, nor spank him. Eventually, she decided just to ignore him, although ignoring the bite marks was a lot more difficult.

Luckily, Olivia is not a mini-Dracula. She prefers whining, hitting, and throwing herself (I’m not sure which situation is worst).

There’s a ton of parenting advice and tips on how to discipline toddlers — everything from spanking to time-out, to talking and encouraging positive behavior rather than punishing bad. I’m not against spanking. I think it can work and if you pick your battles, it may be very effective.

However, when I’ve attempted to spank Olivia, she does it in return or does it to the dog. It’s sad to see my pit bull being bullied by my 1-year old. And isn’t it counter-productive to punish my child for hitting by hitting her? At this stage, I don’t think a time-out is very effective, she’s too young to understand. She doesn’t understand that she is being punished. To her, mommy is leaving her all by herself. No lesson learned.

I do talk and encourage positive behavior as much as I can, but what I’ve also found to be effective for temper tantrums, whining, frustration, and other annoying toddler behaviors is distracting her. I read somewhere that when your child is acting up, the best thing to do is to distract her. That sounded genius and when I tried it, it was! The next time I felt a tantrum coming on, I brought her attention to something else, my cellphone. I focused on the phone like it was the most intriguing thing ever, and she followed my lead. Sometimes when she’s being fussy I’ll just tickle her, and as much as she wants to be upset, she can’t help but laugh and forgets her frustration, or even better, tries to tickle me back.

Another tantrum-fighting tactic: singing and dancing.

When Olivia is being uncontrollably fussy and moody, I’ll engage her in a song and dance. Sometimes it’s a nursery rhyme and sometimes it’s something I’ve just made up. The more upbeat and silly, the better.

I try to look at things from her point of view — although there are some things she can communicate to me: bottle, book, eat, bath time (she’s very smart), but there are other things she hasn’t mastered yet and that must be frustrating. Trying to understand the toddler brain is not always so easy.

Fortunately, we haven’t had any public tantrums yet, but I’m sure we will. If and when that happens, I’ll be prepared to tickle my daughter and break out into a ridiculous dance in front of strangers.

I’m sure the other parents will be able to relate, and if I’m lucky, they might just join in.

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