How to confidently turn your toddler’s worst tantrums into loving stress-free moments
By Karen Braveheart
My baby munchkin Justin age 5
In this blog, you’ll learn my secret of turning the most stressful moment into a loving moment with your toddler and stop their temper tantrum immediately. All it took was my imagination and understanding of where my child’s brain was at.
At Prodigi Kids, we’re all about less stress, more moments!
All three of my munchkins are very headstrong and determined. It’s a beautiful quality, and I’ve learned how to work with them and not against them to nurture and grow their willpower as individuals while balancing it with love boundaries when appropriate.
Can you imagine how crazy their tantrums were since they’re very headstrong toddler? Drop a comment below!
Justin’s tantrums were the most challenging
I’m sharing Justin’s tantrums story in this blog. They were the most challenging out of my three munchkins, and my breakthrough technique that I’m sharing with you here on how to navigate them successfully came from him.
Thanks Justin!. Shhh. Don’t tell him I said this because I love my kids all so very much!
Justin’s worst tantrum
Justin age 4
Justin was three years old. It was around 4pm, and we had just arrived home after picking him up from preschool.
One second he was eating a snack in the kitchen with Sophia and Ryan. The next second, he was throwing the dining room chairs around, knocking them over, picked one up and hurled it at Ryan (I didn’t know he had that hulk strength) and yelled at Sophia.
He ran into the living room screaming at the top of his lungs and then exploded on the floor arms and legs flailing crying his eyes out.
This all happened in like 3 seconds, and I have no idea why this happened. In his toddler mind, it could have been a snack he didn’t like or that his big brother got the bigger snack or that his sister looked at him weird. I can’t recall. I won’t ever forget what he did though.
How I turned the most stressful moment into a loving moment
There were multiple safety rule infractions that he committed and now he was in a tailspin. I had to do damage control.
6 ways I transformed the moment
I made it fun. I hurled myself on the floor next to him and stared at the blank ceiling above us. I told him I saw a unicorn and asked him what he saw
In that moment, he immediately stopped his tantrum and turned his head to his right, and looked at me like I was crazy. I’ll never forget the look
He had a smile on his face like what is mom doing? I think he thought my question was funny. And, he answered. He answered that he saw a turtle (his favorite)
I asked him what color, and he said green. This game I made up went on for several more rounds until he jumped on top of me and gave me a big hug!
Then, I asked him what was bothering him. Once I made an emotional connection with him, he told me that his brother got a bigger cup than he did and he wanted it (after seeing his big bro had it) Totally understandable to a 3 year old!
From that day forward, we made it fun when he got upset. He actually remembered the game I made up and would lay down next to me. We’d make up fun imaginary creatures that we’d see on the ceiling
I wish I did this for Sophia and Ryan, but I didn’t think of it at the time. I just comforted them as best as I could and told them it was ok to be upset. I asked them if they wanted a hug. Then, when they were ready, I’d talk to them about what upset them and help support them in that way.
Once Justin calmed down, I talked to him about how throwing a chair could hurt his brother and as a safety issue- it’s a big no no in my home. I also talked to him about how being yelled at doesn’t feel good.
It took a minute, but I kept repeating this to him and taught him that it’s ok to be angry, but it’s not ok to take it out on his siblings.
Understanding tantrums don’t have to be controlled- they just need love
Our society places a BIG emphasis on controlling a child’s behavior. Many psychologists and experts talk about how to control a child’s behavior and their emotions.
I’m not sure where this came from, but in my humble opinion, this lens isn’t aligned with love. Why are we trying to control a child’s behavior and their emotions?
Do you as an adult like it when someone tries to control your behavior or your emotions? I don’t! So why do we teach parents to treat their children like this?
Instead, to be in alignment with love, we need to first understand what emotions are. Emotions are simply energy in motion. They come and go.
They don’t have to take up permanent residence in your mind. Emotions are always changing and always in flux. That’s what makes them beautiful.
Our society is scared of facing tough emotions. We do all we can to run away from them. I used to struggle with tough emotions until I learned that facing emotions is the key to healing.
For example, I didn’t know how to handle anxiety when I felt it. Then by turning into my anxiety at the time, I realized that I was trying to control the future - I was worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet, and my mind stayed in this loop.
I think the best way to work with your child’s behavior is to teach them how to be with their feelings and how to safely navigate them. Especially the tough ones and that requires us parents to do it ourselves.
Do you run away from your tough feelings or do you open up to them?
Justin age 4 (Looking at this pic, I probably should have given him carrots for a snack)
Why do toddlers have tantrums?
I don’t have a degree in child development. I have a law degree and what I call an “on the ground” degree in raising three kids with self worth.With three munchkins so close in age, I’ve pretty much experienced every crazy, stressful situation and share the wisdom gained from my life experiences with you.
Generally, my kids had tantrums in these 3 scenarios
- I said no and they didn’t like it. My munchkins would sometimes throw a tantrum when I said no to something. Toddlers haven’t developed the reasoning skills yet to understand that I said no to the cookie because we were going to have dinner soon. They just saw the cookie and wanted it
- They get overwhelmed. Toddlers' brains are growing so rapidly. 90% of your entire brain foundation is built in the 1st five years of life. That’s millions of neuron connections being made every day. That’s a lot of activity in their brains! They are rapidly learning about themselves, thir world, and how the two intersect
- They haven’t been taught how to regulate their nervous system when faced with tough emotions. Can you imagine experiencing anger, sadness, frustration, happiness for the first time and not knowing how to handle them? These emotions can seem BIG to a small toddler. I teach my kids to feel their feelings
- Some feelings can seem scary. Feeling angry, anxious, scared, etc… How do you handle these feelings with yourself? How do you handle these feelings with your kids? A key part of developing self worth aka self love is connecting with yourself and feeling all your feelings. Practice being present with yourself and turning inward to feel these “scary” feelings. Then see them magically disappear and bring you clarity
- Try making your toddler’s tantrum fun like I did. Comment below how you did it. We’d love to hear your success stories!!!
- Do you meditate? With meditation comes many gifts. Meditation has taught me to calm my nervous system and how to create a peaceful space between me feeling anger and not reacting to the feeling by lashing out at someone else. It’s helped me be a better person and parent. If you lash out at the same time your kid needs help with strong overwhelming feelings then it’s like the two of you are having a tantrum. And then you can’t get out of the stressful situation
- Make your own feelings your friend. What’s your relationship to your feelings? Do you resist or try and control your own strong feelings? Are you ignoring them? Are you embracing them! Feelings are your gateway to peace. Feel into them and don’t shy or run away from them
- To learn more about the Prodigi Kids Self Worth Parenting Paradigm, read our free eBook. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how to raise your child with core beliefs of self worth and the neuroscience behind it
- Read our blog "Discipline vs. Punishment," which does a deeper dive into exactly how our model built on love and discipline builds positive self worth. In it, I discuss how "teachable moments" and "love boundaries"- 2 terms I coined, when used daily with your child, lead to happier, healthier, and more connected relationships
- Bring our products into your home to encourage a more loving engagement with your children and support our mission to make our Self Worth Parenting Paradigm the norm!
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About the Author Karen Braveheart, CEO
Karen Braveheart is an attorney turned entrepreneur and mom of three who deeply cares about making the world a happier place by changing how we raise our children. Learn more