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How to reduce toddler tantrums - the 5 minute rule

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
How to reduce toddler tantrums - the 5 minute rule
Today I'm going to give you, the lovely hardworking parents out there, one of my most valuable secrets. Now we all love secrets don't we? I believe my secrets should be shared even though my friend and colleague, Sally says I share too much. LOL

I've been working with families and their toddlers and children, for way long, doing the supernanny thing. I do like supernanny a lot, but I have a few more things up my sleeve. It's always good to have a repertoire and I describe myself as an options girl with the solutions! This is part of my toddler development series of blogs.

I'll also let you into another secret. I use these tools in my personal life with my partner. He thinks they come from football rules (Aussie Rules - AFL) but I know different. The important thing is they work. so now I've got you on the edge of your seat, saying come on girl give it to me ...

The first of my secrets is the five minute rule. When children and especially toddlers are playing they are so engrossed in what they're doing. Nothing, not even an earthquake could stop them. Their imagination and concentration are at a peak.

Now, what happens when, you, the parent comes along and needs to go shopping, so that you all have to leave the house.The toddler throws a tantrum because they are 'doing the most important thing'. Boys are especially good at getting so absorbed in their play. Now the tantrum has landed you have to deal with it and that takes time, right?

OK, how about we take it back five minutes and we give the child a warning that in five minutes they need to stop what they're doing, tidy away and we're going shopping at the store?

For a younger child or toddler we may give a shorter warning such as two or three minutes. Time is a difficult concept for a toddler. You may say something like 'in a moment'. That can carry more meaning.

By giving them time to think about stopping we are respecting the importance of play. We must never underestimate this. Play is our work, to the child.

The five minute rule is a transition statement. Breaking off one activity and moving onto another.

If we want to break it down, we can. So we give a five minute rule and then we go back every minute or so and say 'four minutes to stopping play', 'three minute countdown' and so on. It depends on the child.

As a parent you will feel less hurried. The child knows what is expected and so it's a win-win.

So parents. I'd like you to give this a go. I think you're going to really love it. The difference in your tantrum rate will astound you. It's part of a respectful relationship with you and your child and over the weeks I'll be looking at how we build on that relationship with your child. Parents with young babies can start to practice this, so that they get the idea of routines and changes of activity. Talk through your day just before it happens.

The next blog will look at how we give instructions. This is an especially powerful concept and the five-minute rule and instruction giving go together but I'm going to give them in separate blogs. They deserve their own space.

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