Two Words to Calm Tantrums
Two Words to Calm Tantrums
In the past we’ve looked at how toddler tantrums can stem from the requirement to have one or more of just four immediate needs met.
Needs to eat, drink, sleep or receive comfort.
These specific needs have been reported to be the trigger for up to 90% of tantrums for small people.
We’ve also looked at how toddlers, who receive a response and have these needs met, can move onto higher level learning, engaging their interests and explorations happily, elsewhere.
At this stage even more frustration can manifest itself as a lack of vocabulary to explain concepts or objects that are required right now (!) to you become apparent.
A toddlers understanding is 6 months ahead of their ability to express themselves – I seriously cannot begin to imagine what a hugely frustrating and overwhelming time this must be for our small people.
I have found two simple words that calming the storm of upset and miscommunication:
It wasn’t until I was delivering some training for Early Years professionals that the penny dropped – and I realised that this was a piece of information that everyone would find so helpful in gaining understanding of our little ones.
And it can be applied to older babies, toddlers and older children too.
All young children struggle with vocabulary and frequently get upset and frustrated when they can’t explain their ideas or needs adequately.
“Babysigning is not a passing fad, or trend, but rather the most precious of gifts to your child, starting in babyhood, that lasts a lifetime.”
How does it work?
1. When you see your baby or young child becoming upset, ask (and sign) if you can HELP.
2. Wait for your child to respond. If they become agitated or upset again, simply say – and sign! – ‘Show me’.
My experience, with my own three children and from the wonderful feedback we have from classes, is has been that a small child will calm down almost immediately upon hearing these words.
Younger babies can be carried on a hip and will generally gesticulate in the direction that they need your attention.
Babies who are on the move will crawl in the direction that you are needed.
Toddlers will eagerly grasp your hand and drag – yes, drag! – you to where they feel they need help.
But the calm descends first.
Your little one has your attention.
You have recognised the need for help and responded appropriately.
Once your baby has shown you what it is that they want or need – a drink from the kitchen, a train that has got stuck, a cat on the windowsill – you can use this opportunity to show your little one the sign and use the correct words to describe what they are seeing.
“For those who worry about toddler’s speech development, I would like to reassure that that signing is always replaced by speech once a child feels confident – and competent – with the spoken word. “
It also helps you to understand your child’s higher level learning; what motivates and interests them which has two benefits.
- for pre-verbal children, you have given them the ability to communicate for themselves, without distress, in the future.
- for children who are acquiring language, you are giving them the gift of the right words.
For those who worry about toddler’s speech development, I would like to reassure that that signing is always replaced by speech once a child feels confident – and competent – with the spoken word.
From time to time your little one may use the sign as well as the word, to reinforce an important point for emphasis or to make it very clear that they require a need to be met – and very particularly if they are feeling unwell, or tired.
This shows us the longevity of signing and how it has a huge, lasting, impact on providing key ways for children to communicate.
Babysigning is not a passing fad, or trend, but rather the most precious of gifts to your child, starting in babyhood, that lasts a lifetime.
But in the meantime…
Shelley - Little Signers Club
Founder | Speaker | Author | Chief Bubble Tester | Mama of 3
Shelley is the founder of Little Signers Club and has been teaching little ones, and their grown ups, how to use sign language for accelerated communication and understanding since 2005.
Kindly regarded as an expert in her field, Shelley regularly contributes to Childcare Expo, has been featured on BBC1, BBC Radio, in Junior Magazine, Gurgle Magazine, and was a contributing author for ToddlerCalm; A Guide to Calmer Toddlers.
She has three children of her own and, when she is not sharing her love of baby signing with the world, can be regularly found toasting marshmallows over a campfire.
Next on the Blog: