There is nothing more excruciating than addressing a toddler’s full-blown tantrum. Apart from the kicking and screaming in public, the ear-splitting wail at home as you ready them for a much-needed shuteye can easily turn any Stepford wife into a Tiger Mom. Fortunately, there are actually tried and tested ways to handle 4-year old bed time tantrums without letting the act get into your already over-stressed demeanor.
Understanding The Tantrum Conundrum
Why is there such a thing as a “toddler tantrum” before bedtime (or even nap time), anyway? Much as we all adore our little tots, it can be quite heady to get deep into their neurons to understand why tonight’s magical lullaby can be totally hateful today. Fret-not though as it is perfectly normal this age to go into a meltdown when asked to keep what they’ve been doing. According to experts, toddlers at this year still has their brain’s frontal lobe under construction. This means that their logic, planning, judgment, reasoning, emotional processing and, lo and behold, self-control are still on a developing phase. Frustration then, becomes them.
Nap and bedtime tantrums can pose two types of frustration– missing out on the fun side and not understanding what exhaustion is like. These cuddly cutiepatoties simply don’t want to miss out on fun activities going around them! Even when they are clearly exhausted, they would want to go on and on, resisting your charms as you mention fairy tales or go into Adele in lullaby mode. In retaliation, they will pitch a fit to convey their annoyance with themselves. With others not so good in verbalizing their feelings, so a full-blown meltdown then, takes place.
Gearing For Hassle-Free Bedtime
So, before your toddler start turning from a little cherub to a green gnome of dome with his or her hysterical outbursts, these simple tips may work like silver dust to make your child go to sleep with minimal pouting and grunts.
- Offer choices to your little tot. Allow your child to pick a story or a lullaby or a pajama to wear. Offering options will allow them to embrace their growing sense of independence and ultimately prevent the usual power struggle that often ends in disaster.
- Be consistent when it comes to establishing bedtime or power naps. Disruptions often take its toll to their young minds. Experts, however, suggest that establishing sound sleep patterns should start while young. While he or she can choose what fairy tale to narrate or what music to play, it is essential to stick to your nighttime schedule.
- Never engage in a bedroom “blitzkrieg” with your toddler. Instead, try to create a sense of transition like a countdown from one activity to the next. Letting your child know what is going to happen next and giving him or her fair warning will make the transition easier to manage. Saying “sleep time after a favorite movie” will keep them grounded on the idea. Don’t forget to offer a glass of milk while doing so to trigger sleep hormones, too.
- Keep calm and be consistent. There’s no denying that equally earsplitting and head-cracking moment when a toddler starts screaming. But riding on their frustration will get you nowhere. It is also unwise to reason out with your little tot. Keep in mind that their sense of logic is still at a developing stage. So, stay put with a calm demeanor with nary an octave raised when talking to a screaming banshee. Don’t cave in though. If bedtime is at 7 o’clock, stick to it. Giving them a chance to manipulate you will ultimately turn the adage history repeats itself to happen over and over again.
- Prevent any tiring activities at least an hour before bedtime. Toddlers are often on hyper-drive that they often, have a hard time delineating tiredness and excitement. Keeping them calm and collected an hour before slated bedtime or nap time will eventually help transition them gradually to dreamland.
There really is no shortcut when it comes to properly handling 4-year old bed time tantrums. It takes a lot of patience and love to be able to grow a child that doesn’t only thrive in his or her newfound independence and capabilities. When the process proves to be overwhelming, seeking out outside support should never be considered taboo. Parenting should never be a lonely journey. Reach out for support. Be open for suggestions. Sometimes, looking at the same thing from a different angle can prove to be enlightening.