Development FAQ: 24+ months – Tantrums

My daughter, who is nearly three is having an increasing number of tantrums, especially in the morning. Just getting her dressed and encouraging her to eat her breakfast is proving challenging.

I the morning I need to drop her at her nursery in good time for me to get to work. How do I deal with this behaviour?

Your daughter’s behaviour is quite common for a child of almost three. In the morning, she has just woken up from a long, deep sleep and needs a little time to adjust to the start of a busy day.

We often emphasise the need for a good bedtime routine. It is equally important for a young child to have a calm and consistent morning routine, which allows plenty of opportunity for her to do some things for herself without feeling rushed.

To enable you to manage this, you may need to start your day fifteen or twenty minutes early. Before you attempt to wake your daughter, get dressed yourself, and make sure you are organised for your day with car keys, briefcase etc. ready by the front door. See to your needs first, (ideally while she is still asleep) so that you can really focus on your little one when she begins to get up.

She will naturally want to dress herself, and if it good for her development to be allowed to do this. Stay with her, but perhaps concentrate on tidying her room, giving her plenty of encouragement and praise as she begins to get dressed. She should then let you help her with tricky buttons and zips. If she is a child who fusses about her clothes, make sure you have laid this out the night before with her involvement.

Once your daughter is dressed, and her bedroom tidy, take her downstairs for breakfast.

It is possible that her tantrums are her way of letting you know that she feels her time with you is limited, and during the time she has with you she wants your undivided attention, so once she is awake let her spend as much time with you as possible before you leave the house.

Try to have breakfast together. Eating meals with your child is such a benefit not only to good table manners, but in encouraging her to eat up by example. It is also a nice opportunity to prepare her for her day – talk to her about what she will be doing at nursery, and tell her a little about what you will be doing at work.

If you give your daughter a little more time and attention in the morning, you will probably find it is much less likely for her to throw a tantrum.
In the contented toddler years Gina discussed the benefit of using a star chart. Your child is the perfect age to feel motivated and encouraged by a star chart, awarding her stars for getting dressed, brushing her teeth, eating her breakfast etc.

The key to any routine is being consistent and calm. You will both begin to treasure this time together if you can make it as relaxed and enjoyable as possible, while getting to work on time.