From Terrible Twos to Threenagers: How to handle toddler tantrums with mindfulness

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Do you have a toddler? How are you handing your toddler’s tantrums? After seeing many months of daily tantrums, I must say I found mindfulness to be the best tool to deal with tantrums.In this blog, I share the story of my little person with big emotions!

My husband was away overseas for 2 weeks and I was alone with my 3-year-old daughter except for the second week when my mum came all the way from Japan to help out (yes, I know, I’m getting better at asking for help!) 

She missed him every day and it was one of the most challenging 2 weeks for me. Her tantrums were getting worse. Both the frequency and the length of each tantrum. Finding solution to this has become my main mission during the time of his absence. 

I googled and tried a lot of different things but nothing really worked. Time out was the worst thing, her screaming only got louder. Sometimes I had to remove myself from the situation by walking away from her as I didn’t have enough patience to hold the space especially after being alone with her all the time and not having much time to myself. But every time I try to leave her made the situation even worse.

So, after a number of failed attempts, I have decided to ditch Dr Google and instead just to be present with her and practise mindfulness which is not the easiest thing to do when you have someone screaming and kicking right in front of you. 

Whenever I tried to have some physical distance from her, her screaming got worse and she was DESPARATE for cuddles. She came running begging for cuddles as if she needed to make sure I still loved her. 

This is when I knew she needed me. She needed me to feel safe. Things just got way out of her control. She just didn’t know how to handle these big emotions and me leaving her or me trying to move her into a different space was the worst thing imaginable for her. 

So, the next time she threw a tantrum, I stayed in the scene. I waited the worst part to be over and allowed her to express frustration however way she needed to (and made sure she wasn’t hurting herself in the process) I let her release her feelings while providing a safe place.

A part of me wanted to run away from her as I could feel anger arising inside me. But as I felt enormous discomfort, I still chose to take a few deep breaths and try to see the situation from her perspective. Most importantly I stayed calm and spoke with loving kindness and chose to be compassionate.

As I held my sobbing child in my arms, I could feel that she was starting to calm down. She needed the right energy from me to retune herself to my energy

When you lose it and react to your toddler’s tantrum, meeting anger with anger, expect the situation to get worse. (I know, I’ve been there!) Instead, show your toddler how you respond to a challenging situation with compassion and mindfulness and your child will learn from how you handle the situation. You need to be able to stay calm enough so you can respond to the situation. Easier said than done!

The lesson I learned from this is to be fully present with my child no matter how challenging the situation is. Don’t run away from her. She needs you. Have the courage to be present with her no matter how uncomfortable it is.

As I re-read what I’ve written, I realise this is what I always teach in my yoga classes. Be willing to feel what’s going on without turning away. Much easier said than done in a situation like this one!

I’m not a parenting expert and I don’t pretend to be. I’m simply sharing my own experience of what worked and what didn’t for my family in the hope that you might find this helpful. Try it for yourself and see what works and what doesn’t. You need to find a way that works for you & your child. It’s all a trial and error process.

Each time my child throws a tantrum, I now see it as my mindfulness practice. Trust your instinct beautiful mama. Trust your inner wisdom. You know what’s best for your child. You will find the answer as long as you have the right intention so trust the process.

P.S. I’m totally not pretending like I’ve got it all together. Some days I handle her tantrum better, other days not as well. Thank you for being my teacher, my darling girl because you’re definitely teaching mummy infinite love & patience. 

Now I’d like to hear from you! Do you have a toddler? What worked and what didn’t in your experience of dealing with tantrums? There is no right or wrong answer to this. Just opening the conversation! 

If you enjoyed this post and are interested in practising more mindfulness with me, come and join our weekly mums & bubs / toddlers sessions where we practise yoga & mindfulness in a child-friendly environment. 1:30 – 2:30pm every Friday from 25 October to 29 November on the Northern Beaches NSW. Hit the link below for more details and feel free to let me know if you have any questions (single class, 3 class pass and 6 class pass available)

If you’re nowhere near the Northern Beaches, you may enjoy the upcoming FREE 3-day self-care challenge with me. I’ll be sharing a 5 -minute video on each day of the challenge within Mindful Mum CommUNITY Facebook group and you will receive a PDF summary of the challenge via email. To sign up, please visit my home page below and follow the prompts. The challenge begins on Monday 4 November 2019.

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