Toddlers, tantrums and talking.

Tantrums are just a natural part of toddlerhood, but did you know that they can sometimes get in the way of language development? Often times as parents and caretakers, we see the tantrum as an expression of a toddler’s frustration (which it is). As such, however, it is also a form of communication, e.g., I’m angry, I wanted that, you’re not doing what I want you to do, etc. Before I go further, I should be clear that for the purposes of this discussion, I am talking specifically about tantrums related to a child not getting their way/something they want, not meltdowns as a result of a toy breaking, dropping their ice cream, grandma going home, etc. When little ones have tantrums because they want something and we get them that something, we have just built a circle of communication. If we continue that pattern, e.g., toddler wants something, I say no or don’t know what it is, they scream, I give them something (object, touch, talk, etc.), we are reinforcing that communication pattern and developing a neural pathway. Remember in my video about brain development where I talked about repetition and myelination? This is one super highway we don’t want to create!

One thing I didn’t get to in this weeks video tip was to discuss how important it is that we DON’T LECTURE our littles during this process. I’ve heard so many parents over the years try to talk to their little one during the meltdown, e.g., “you need to calm down” or “mommy will get you what you want when you use your words” (more to come in a future post about using that latter statement). When toddlers are in meltdown mode, listening skills go out the window (not that they are that great at that to begin with at this age). They are on sensory overload and continuing to talk to them during that moment doesn’t do anything to calm their brains. Think about when you are really angry and people are trying to talk to you, tell you want to do, telling you to calm down…I don’t know about you, but it usually just makes me angrier. And let’s be clear, angry brains don’t learn well. Getting our littles in a calmer state of mind leads to more opportunities for learning.

For more on this and how to diminish tantrums, watch the video below. Or better yet, download my Tantrum Tamer Cheat Sheet here. There will be more tips and strategies to come so if you want them sent strait to your inbox, subscribe to my newsletter here.

Tantrums, toddlers and talking.