How to tame a tantrum
Also: keeping your kids chill at a restaurant
Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was healthy and happy, and if you (like me) got stuck in a blizzard…that Santa had Rudolph on speed dial. If you find yourself sitting in a pile of boxes labeled “tree ornaments - kid art” wondering when that “new year, new me” will show up? You’re not alone.
Before we dive in, we want to send a heartfelt thank you to everyone who reached out with love and kindness during an extremely difficult time for the East family with the passing of Andrew’s father. Please know your words and prayers are felt and appreciated. We enjoyed this beautiful tribute Andrew made for his dad, Guy, and think you will, too.
Our answer: We salute you, Annie! The tantrum stage is one most parents look back on with a shudder, and I imagine it’s especially tough with a bigger crew. TBH, I’m in the depths of kicking-and-screaming (the stressful kind, not the underrated Will Ferrell movie) with my own two-year-old.
I’ve learned to ride the waves of development with my daughter. She’s at that point where she has big feelings but no tools to really describe them, so I try my best to connect with her—at her level—as much as possible. Knowing that mom or dad is nearby with a hug and some calming words helps her when she feels like things are getting out of control.
But…let’s be honest, that doesn’t always work perfectly. Something as small as handing little kids the wrong sippy cup can set them off, which in turn sets us off, which isn’t fun for anyone. So? Let’s look to some expert advice:
If your child is getting aggressive, it’s best to nip it in the bud immediately. Removing your child (or other children) from the situation can clear space for the calm after the storm and give your tantruming toddler a chance to get those big feelings out safely.
You know when you’re in an argument and your partner says “calm down” and the last thing it makes you feel is calm? Yeah, mid-tantrum is not a time to give complicated directions or teach lessons. Those thoughtful words will not be heard.
Empathy can go a long way, according to parenting creator Taylor Raine in this easy-to-follow Youtube video on shutting down a meltdown. Think compassion, short sentences, and a little understanding that your toddler is new to the world of intense emotions.
I’ll admit it: I was ready to do just about anything to learn how to handle my toddler’s hitting phase. I grabbed a super helpful course from Big Little Feelings, but they also have tons of free content that covers everything from hitting to mom rage. Check them out on IG here.
And remember—you’re doing great, even when things feel out of control. Soon enough, your little one will grow out of the tantrum phase and into some new, exciting, mega challenging parenting dilemma for you to Google late at night. 😉
Our answer: This might not be what you were expecting, but our first and most important tip? Lower your expectations.
And not in the dejected way…in the way that lets you understand that some kids could happily sit through nine courses at the White House and others have a zero-tolerance policy for anything after complimentary breadsticks.
But if you want to work on improving your kids’ patience at the dinner table you don’t have to set, here’s what we recommend:
Don’t show up empty-handed. Entertainment goes a long way—crayons and coloring books, iPads (volume on low), small toys, books, puzzles, etc. Anything that doesn’t take your attention away from your chicken parmesan and chianti is fair game (and here are some more ideas).
Ask for help. God bless the parents/aunts/uncles/cousins who were always willing to take my daughter for “a walk” around the restaurant or play tic-tac-toe so mom could finish her meal. It takes a village!
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Case of mistaken identity. We had a chuckle at this gracious case of mistaken identity captured on video as Mila Kunis signed autographs. (I bet Megan Fox would have said the same thing.)
Resolution round up. Buzzfeed did us the ultimate solid by gathering up the internet’s funniest New Year’s resolutions. Click here to read if you’re down with a little NSFW grown-up language.
The Parent Test. Have you guys seen this new show on ABC? It showcases diverse families with different parenting styles and I have to admit, I found it fascinating and also kind of fun to learn about parenting styles so different from my own. What kind of parent are you? Free range? Helicopter?
If you have a small (or large) victory, tip, or trick, send it my way to be included in an upcoming newsletter!
We’re so happy to be back. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming up in the weeks ahead. We’ll see you Monday to chat about one of our favorite new plans for 2023!