Of all the stages of my eight children's lives, it's their toddler years that stood out most. Though as babies they warmed my heart every day, after one year they got really interesting as their personalities emerged. But the toddler stage can also be the most challenging. Just when you thought you'd figured out your baby's feeding, sleeping, and pooping habits, suddenly there's a slew of new situations and quirks to get a handle on. Here's one of the most common questions that I'm asked at toddler checkups:
Our 2-year-old has a tantrum when it's time to leave the playgroup. How can I get him to listen to me?
It can be embarrassing when your child has a meltdown in front of other moms (especially when their kids seem to be behaving!), but toddler tantrums are more common than not. Our Matthew was famous for his dramatic protests when playtime came to an end. Time and time again, we weathered these outbursts -- and then we figured something out. Every time we came to pick him up from a friend's, we were in a hurry and rushed him (red-faced and wailing) out the door. We weren't giving our hyperfocused boy a chance to end the fun on his own terms.
Toddlers tend to have trouble transitioning from one activity to the next, and yours is probably no exception. That's why it may be a good idea to give him a chance to change gears at a slower pace. Instead of hurrying Matthew, we'd give him a few minutes to sign off by telling him to "say 'bye' to your friends" -- or to the trucks or trains.
Another strategy is to dangle another appealing activity before him -- for instance, "When we get home, I'll read you a story or let you help me make cookies," or whatever he loves to do.