Toddlers are like a weather phenomenon: they’re volatile and hard to predict, and their effects can be devastating. Here’s how to keep the wreckage to a minimum. By Lisa Witepski
Mention the word “toddler”, and you’ll see most moms visibly recoil – and with good reason. Their newfound speech skills make them irresistibly adorable, but toddlers seem to say “no” to anything from excursions to supper – on principle, and you never know when a cranky mood is going to escalate into a full-blown tantrum.
These hacks may help you keep the peace a little longer
Keep snacks at hand
Often, the cause of a tantrum isn’t the Anna doll that your little princess must have Right. This. Instant. It’s because she’s hungry. A banana might not seem like an obvious answer to doll envy, but you may find she calms down if she’s well fed.
Remember what counts
Try the “adult” test: are you fighting over something that will matter when your daughter is an adult? If it’s dirty hair yet again, rather let her skip the hair wash. If it’s manners and kindness then take a stand.
Water is tantrum kryptonite
It makes tempers dissipate almost instantly. A bath or splash in a pool is ideal, but even getting your little one’s feet wet will do the trick.
Always budget more minutes than you’ll actually need
Since time is usually a key issue, a toddler’s unwillingness to focus and tendency to dawdle is less irritating if you know that it’s not going to make you late.
Schedule a dinnertime play date
If you’re battling to get your child to eat anything other than pasta, it may inspire him to be a little more adventurous if he can see his friend enjoying the meal.
Shop with a list – of your child’s future birthday pressies
Children are less likely to nag if you assure them that they can have what they’ve asked for at a later date, like a birthday or Christmas. It makes shopping much easier – you’ll also know exactly what to get him when the time comes.
Toddlers appear to have an innate hatred of tidying up – unless you bet them that they won’t be able to clear away their toys as fast as you can. This strategy may work in other situations, too. For example, you could make it a race to see who can get into bed fastest.
Use reverse psychology
Given toddlers’ inclination towards stubbornness, telling your tot that he probably won’t be able to do something – like go to the toilet or lay the table – may be just the incentive he needs to get going.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.