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How To Tame a Public Tantrum

Have you ever thrown yourself on the floor like your toddler when they’re having a tantrum to get them to stop?  What about trying to talk calmly and rationally while your child is flailing and screaming?  I’ve heard of both of these tactics as good ways to deal with tantrums.

How about talking like a toddler and matching the intensity of your child’s fit?

Well, according to an article I recently read in WebMD magazine this might just be the best way to handle a public tantrum.

The article quotes Harvey Karp, MD, author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, who says that during a tantrum there are two important rules to remember, “the Fast Food Rule and the Toddlerese Rule.” 

According to the Fast Food Rule, you first need to acknowledge that your toddler is upset.  Let them go first and get their feelings out, before you then speak back to them using the Toddlerese Rule.

Toddlerese means using short phrases with lots of repetition, with body and facial expressions that match the intensity of your child.

So, for example, the other evening my son was throwing a fit at the store because my husband took our daughter to the bathroom, and he wanted to go too.  But, they were already gone, and it’s too much trouble to try to take both of the to the bathroom at the same time anyway, so he just wasn’t able to go with them.

According to this article, the best way I could have handled this tantrum would have been to say to my son, “You want go! You want go! You want go potty too! You’re really sad! You’re crying loud!”

At this point the article states that Karp promises your child will calm down and look at you. You then use the opportunity to get your point across, again using toddlerese. “You stay here! You stay here! You stay with mommy!”

By acknowledging our toddler’s feeling in a way that they understand and can relate to, we can help them to behave more appropriately and respectfully in public.

So did I take this approach?  Nope.

Honestly, I haven’t gotten up the nerve to actually try this out in public.  I’m not sure that I could really toddler talk like that to my son within earshot of other people.  But, if it worked, I guess it would be worth the slight embarrassment, right?

What do you think, would you be willing to try this tactic when your toddler throws a tantrum in public?

Photo credit: mdanys/flickr

From temper tantrums to talking it through: Helping your toddler express himself

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