Your pulse is racing, your temples are pounding, and your temperature rises. Your face starts to get red, and sweat beads drip from your hairline (If you still have one).
Preparing for being a dad doesn’t prep you for this.
It is a feeling that all parents are faced with suppressing unless you want your child to learn that anger is what happens when you disagree. You know they will copy you eventually.
Just like they do when you swear at other drivers.
There are a few causes of a toddler meltdown, a few ways you can get out of them, and a few things you can do to avoid an injury bought about by a flying toy car. Or a smack around the head with a Buzz Lightyear, that REALLY hurt, by the way!
There Are Two Types Of Arguments When Your Opponent Is A Child
Arguments with kids can build up over a few hours or explode in a few mind-bogglingly ridiculous seconds.
The explosive arguments are usually over something earth-shattering like they can’t find a toy or spilled their drink because they were not paying attention when leaping about for no reason.
They can go from laughing to full-blown meltdown in the time it takes for me to work out why they were laughing in the first place. So you’ve got to be quick to keep up.
These are unavoidable, tantrums are part of Dad life, get used to it.
A toddler’s disagreement can also happen over time. I call them the brimming arguments.
It takes time to build up. The argument is usually sparked when you are busy trying to get something done, and they will not leave you alone.
You tell them you will only be a few minutes. Those minutes turn into a few more minutes because they will not leave you alone to get whatever you need to do.
Suddenly, an hour has passed, and all you have done is explain to a child that you will only be a few more minutes.
They pick up on your frustration and realize they are pushing your buttons. Now they know how to, and they will ramp up the pressure.
What is it about kids that makes them like to see their parents malfunction?
The second type of argument is the one you need to stop as they build up. So please find a way around it, find a way that suits both parties.
Hopefully, these tips will help you on the way to keeping cool during arguments with your child. Kids start getting emotional and are not yet adept at telling you what the f*** is going on in their heads.
10 Tips To Keep You Cool And Stop You Arguing With Your Child
Here are some eureka moments I have picked up on my journey as a dad. I regularly use these to avoid conflict with my Son.
When reasoning and accountability are removed from an argument, I’m out.
You Gotta Evac, Right Now!
The first job, get out of the area!
To stop you from flipping out completely, remove yourself from the situation and give yourself a time out.
When you remove yourself from the battle, please close your eyes and remember they are young. They are still learning about the world. They may have an issue they cannot convey to you in a language you will understand!
You can’t argue with a child, don’t even try. Logic and reasoning go out of the window; you must understand that. Remind yourself of this during your time out.
Sure, you can still hear what is going on. They WANT you to hear. They may even follow you out of the room. Lock yourself in the bathroom, do anything to get yourself away.
You will be calmer when you get back in the room with them.
It Isn’t Hulk Time! Don’t Get Angry!
Do not get angry, and try not even to raise your voice.
I know it is difficult, but imagine what they will be like in a few years when they learn from you that raising your voice is ‘what you do’ as a fully functioning human being.
Leave the inner Hulk in his box, don’t let him out.
Raising your voice will only be matched by theirs in a fully grown baby/toddler breakdown.
Instead of raising your voice, talk to them on a conversational volume level. Soon they will learn that they do not get anywhere by shouting, and because the parents do not shout, the child is also learning not to shout by copying your relaxed, calm, suave demeanor.
A recent study has shown that yelling at your child can become more aggressive. However, you must show your child the benefits of calm conflict resolution as early as possible!
Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Your Kid
When taking your timeout (see tip 1), think about how you might be adding to their mood. Think about anything you are doing to make them annoyed.
Even the most minor thing will kick it off, and you know what kids are like.
Think about what you have said to them in the build-up.
As I have already mentioned, kids are getting used to their new emotions. They do not understand how to deal with them yet, because they have not had the experience to teach them.
The smallest thing. Think about any looks you gave them or hand gestures (Easy, not THOSE hand gestures). Simply putting your hand up to stop them in their tracks can rile them. It might not be immediate, but they default to meltdown once they realize they don’t know how to deal with it.
Listen and Respond
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus
When you return from your oasis of calm, get to their level (physically) and ask them what the problem is in a calm voice. They will not respond calmly.
Ask them again. And again, do not raise your voice.
Eventually, you hope, they will tell you. Then at least you can do something about it.
Kids get annoyed, and I quickly notice that they can’t communicate well. So when they start to communicate well, so many people do not listen.
Seriously, I see it all the time.
A few weeks back, I was sitting in a coffee shop because I turned up early for a meeting. A young parent was there with a child, who must have been around 3-4. The kid was trying to ask his parents something, but they were not getting much response (nose stuck in phone syndrome).
Eventually, after countless requests for them to listen, the parent snapped back at total volume. It almost blew the foam off the top of my flat white.
That is just bad parenting. LISTEN to your kid. What they say will likely be pointless and not very interesting, but you don’t want them to grow up thinking no one is interested in what they are saying.
Listening is one of the best characteristics of a father you can have!
Are They Bored?
When my Son is bored, I know about it.
He gives me a look that says, ‘I’m gonna haunt you for the next few minutes, just to see how you react.’
It is a warning sign. It is in your best interest to find something to do with them before they start pulling your strings and making you dance like Pinocchio.
When I see that look heading my way, I suggest doing something together. Playing with his toys, picking a film to put on. Anything that makes them forget they are bored.
Anything that makes them forget about pushing your buttons.
Give Them Some Learning Time
A great way to stop them from being bored and kicking off is to sit them down and teach them something.
It would be best if you looked up to yourself as someone who teaches them things. So they NEED to look up to you as someone capable of teaching them something.
This act will earn you respect and reduce the chances of conflict when you ask them to do something or stop doing something.
Put yourselves in their shoes. If someone tells you to stop doing something, and that person is a teacher or a leader, are they more likely to listen to them? What if that person is someone who tells them to stop doing something because it is annoying? Who are they likely to hear more?
You are a leader and a teacher to them. Earn their respect by reinforcing their belief.
Are They Tired? Hungry? Sick?
My Son gets grumpy when he is hungry.
Most kids do.
It acts as a timely reminder to feed them, which I appreciate. If your child seems to be in a bad mood, ask them if they are hungry. It could be the magic bullet.
Tired? Grumpy! Same thing. If my Son gets up early in the morning, he will be grumpy by 16:00. I know this; I Can prepare for it.
Sick? Grumpy! As I have mentioned above a couple of times, they can sometimes struggle with emotions. When they are sick, they can get emotional.
Check the usual signs of sickness. Ask them if they feel ok if they are old enough to respond (i.e., don’t try it with a 6-month-old!). Instead, feel their forehead (Like the tire kick for kids).
Look For The Root Of Their Frustration
This is a difficult one and one you might have to do when today’s battle is over.
It is similar to tip number 2, only in much more detail.
Think about the build-up to the argument and see if you can identify anything that could have sparked it off.
Speak to your partner to see if they have found the same triggers. Potentially, you could unearth a common theme that you can look to avoid in the future.
Yeh, as I said, this is a difficult one.
Get Your Punishment Ready
If all else fails, the punishment could be the only way.
I am not advocating smacking my kid, so I look at other options.
For every action, there must be a reaction. The reaction to their action MUST be justifiable and fair. If they tell you to shut up, don’t be going to their room and packing up all their toys, it is too far. So what will you do if they do something a lot worse?
You should have spoken with your partner and set up some punishments that fit specific crimes.
My punishments include banning him from his iPad, removing one of his favorite toys, or putting him on the foot of the stairs, where he cannot move for a certain amount of time.
Think about how your punishment may affect them. A couple of years back, I was around a friend’s house, and his child threw a massive tantrum. He picked her up, took her to bed, shut the door, and returned downstairs.
Literally, ten minutes later he was telling me how difficult it is to get her to bed at night.
She began to see her bed as punishment and couldn’t settle. So I gave him some advice. Instead of using her bed, use the bottom of the stairs. Then, a few weeks later, he found it much easier to put her to bed.
Although, she now has an abject fear of the stairs!
Ok, I made that last bit up.
It is all about making your life easier. When a kid is asleep, it is your time. So please don’t add to the challenge of getting them asleep by making them scared of it!
Hand Them Over For An Hour
Damn, everything else has failed, huh?
Still arguing, with no end in sight?
Be nice to your elderly relatives. They may be the only answer.
If you can, drop them off and take advantage of the free babysitting service. Even if you go to the shop on your own for 30 minutes or so, have a little bit of time without them.
Reset yourself, then go and pick them up.
Hopefully, I have given you some words of wisdom on how to stay cool when your kids are making you angry.
There is no point in arguing with a child, so using some self-learned tips, like the ones above, you need to avoid having these ‘heated discussions.’
Common disagreements come at the usual times, bedtime, mealtime, brushing teeth time, we have to leave the park time, I’ve been in the back of a car, when are we going to get there time.
Anyway, if you can think of any tips I have missed from this page or if I have helped you out in any meltdown situations at home, please contact me or leave a reply below!
Good luck, Dads!