As babies turn 2 years olds, they become more independent and start pushing their limits. This is due to the cause-effect logic: your baby is constantly trying to understand your reaction to his actions and he will adapt his actions to that. It’s a never ending experience that starts at birth and continues for years as they learn to push their limits.
Of course as part of this process babies will start pushing parents’ limits too! And this is what we talk about in today’s article.
All the “no” they receive reflects their search of independence typical of this age. The way they have to express their emotions and to communicate with us is through (frequent and louder?) tantrums.
Why tantrums happen
Tantrum is an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child. Very different to whim that instead is a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind, and it’s something more related to a more mature stage of life.
For Montessori, everything is ultimately related to how difficult it can be for babies to communicate. They want to communicate a desire, a need, a feeling and this is the only way to express all of this to us but we often don’t understand those signals.
To make themselves heard they will start yelling, crying, not listening, kicking, punching and biting.
What to do and not do when your baby tantrums?
- Stay calm (count until 10 and use that previous learnings from your yoga classes!)
- Try to understand what they want with patience and focus
- Put yourself at their eye level
- Use a low voice tone and be gentle (go back to your yoga class #1!), this is useful to help them calm down
- Call them by name
- Use simple words, easy to understand
- Don’t yell: they are focused on their feeling, yelling will make things worse
- Don’t be violent: slapping and spanking are not solutions, even worse, they’ll learn from you how to use violence (yes, they learn from us!)
- Don’t restrain from moving: give them space to manage their anger but do not leave them alone (once they calm down, they will need physical contact and a hug from you!)
- Don’t leave them alone: they will feel abandoned
- Don’t punish nor intimidate: no long lasting positive things will come from it
- Don’t embarrass them yelling in public: it’s not respectful and people around you don’t care
Are you too angry to manage your baby’s tantrum?
It’s normal. It’s human. You are fine.
A lot of patience is needed in this situations.
The best advice is to take a break and go for a walk. If you can’t do it, just ask for your partner’s help or someone’s help while you take a break and calm down, you will feel relieved and able to manage the situation once you are back.
What Montessori suggests to avoid tantrums?
Indipendency. Starting from 2 years old, babies are looking for more independency. Adapt your place to be at baby’s measure, to allow them to do things by themselves.
Practical example: let your baby pick what he wants to wear. Prepare different options of clothes the night before going to bed and let him choose in the morning.
A few simple rules. Define clear rules and explain them using simple words with a positive attitude. In this way they will feel more prone to follow them instead of opposing to them (like they have to push that limit)
Practical example: They need to use the car seat and use a car belt. Explain why it’s important for his/her safety using simple words.
Set a routine. Building routines will help your baby knowing what’s going on and he will feel less inclined to have tantrums.
Practical example: Before going to bed, start a series of activities that prepare the baby to this moment: put on pijama, brush teeth, drink a glass of water, read a fairy tale or listen to a story. Here you can find a nice routine calendar that can help your baby keeping track of the daily activities.
The last important thing to remember is for parents to be coherent and aligned. It’s ok to have different solutions to the same problem, but it’s important to discuss that and find common ground. If you don’t do that, your baby will be even more confused.