Ever doubt how to manage boundaries with big emotional outbursts from your toddler

Ever worry whether your boundaries will impact your toddler’s emotional wellbeing? 

As we know tantrums are part of your toddler’s emotional growth. It is a phase in their learning where they work out how to get what they want. Boundaries are a necessary part of this learning and knowing how to apply your boundaries is key. It is not about them being happy, it is about them learning to use their emotions as regulators of their life. When we apply boundaries effectively, they will develop a good sense of self and accountability for what they want and how to get it.

Here are 3 distinctions to make when setting boundaries with your toddler

Timing of your message

The timing if your message is very important. There is a time for a clear boundary and a time for the lesson. Our focus needs to always be on what they are learning. i.e. how to ask for what they want effectively. The rule is: never go into the lesson in the moment. Acknowledge their feelings and state the rule. It is in the after conversation that we give the learning. So often we think that we must resolve in the moment otherwise we create emotional damage, but that is not the case. Our “presence” in that moment with strength and no judgement is what will hold the space for their emotional development – it is not the result or them getting what they want that settles their emotion

Always acknowledge their emotions

When we acknowledge their emotions, they feel heard and understood. (not always in the moment, but they do, if we combine this with the after conversation consistently) It is important for us to be accepting of all emotions especially the negative ones (even when it feels uncomfortable). Emotions are indicators of a need. So instead of making the emotion “wrong”, focus on the need instead. Teach them that their emotion is an indicator of their need and that they are responsible to find a way to meet their need. This does not mean we give in to our boundary. If we give in, they have missed the learning. Remember in the moment we just acknowledge them and state the rule. I know you are upset and no sweets until after dinner. The lessons happen in the after conversations.

The learning conversation afterwards

This is the most important step in the process. We can’t just leave the tantrum unresolved. When their emotion is settled, we can have the after conversation. The why for this conversation is the developing their ability to ask for what they want in another way. How you feel during this conversation is important. You cant be “trying to influence”. We need to approach this conversation from a neutral perspective.  This takes practice on our side

What made you so upset?

What could you do next time?

How could you ask?

They don’t need to come up with the answer immediately, you are training the way their brains to assess situations. Refer to my other article on 4 tips to tame toddler tantrums to make sure your rules are clear which will support this process and to get clear of what to try next time. 

When we follow this process consistently, we will realise that it is the process that develops their ability to regulate their emotions and ask for what they want and not the outcome of them getting what they want in each moment. It is the accumulated conversations that develop them. 

In closing

Use these tips and others I provide in my blogs.  I am here to support you through your entire parent journey 

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About the Author

Gail is a Family Relationship Coach specialising in Parent-Child Relationships. She is passionate about empowering and inspiring parents to develop children’s self-awareness. She believes that this can be achieved by balancing parent’s needs with children’s development and happiness. Understanding how to synchronise our thoughts and emotions and what drives them ensures our happiness, and our children reaching their full potential. Gail is a Qualified NLP Practitioner, NLP Life Coach and Emotional Freedom Techniques Practitioner with over 10 years’ experience and success at applying these techniques to children’s learning and behaviour. Her success with her own son is proof of the possibility of true potential

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