Parenting

Preventing a Toddler Tantrum

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First Things First Article by Ofelia Gonzalez
https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/first-things/preventing-toddler-tantrums

We’ve all seen it. A toddler in the middle of the cereal aisle at the grocery store. On the floor, screaming that they want a certain cereal and a parent trying their best to calm them down. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been there.  Young kids can get overwhelmed. Research shows that a toddler tantrum is a normal response to anger and frustration. The part of a toddler’s brain that regulates emotion is still developing.

Those public meltdowns may seem unavoidable. And sometimes they are. But there are things you can do to limit the chances of a tantrum.

One approach is to give your toddler clear choices. For example, go back to the cereal aisle. You probably have some preapproved options in your head, the cereals that you’re willing to purchase. Present your options right away. “Corn flakes or Cheerios?” Show your toddler the two boxes and have them choose. This way they feel a part of the decision-making process, but aren’t overwhelmed. And you’ve limited the choices to two or three options that you approve of.

This approach can apply to many potentially-frustrating situations. “Do you want to color or do a puzzle?” “Do you want to wear the blue or the red shirt?” By calmly offering choices that you control, you’re empowering your toddler while avoiding the power struggle and hopefully a tantrum. It’s part of setting limits, which young kids need to develop self-control.

It won’t always work, of course. But keeping calm and being consistent in your approach should, over time, help make tantrums less likely.

When reading to toddlers, books with pictures are ‘just right’

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First Things First Article by Ofelia Gonzalez
https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/first-things/when-reading-to-toddlers-books-with-pictures-are-just-right/

Researchers call it the Goldilocks effect.

They set out to see what is happening in a young child’s brain—in this case, 4-year-olds—when they were read the same story with pictures, without pictures or when they watched an animated cartoon. Just like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” the study found that one method was too cold, one was too hot and one just right.

According to a recent article from National Public Radio, as the children heard the story, an MRI machine scanned their brains to see which regions of the brain appeared more active and connected.

Story without pictures = “Too cold”

For the children hearing the story without pictures, the brain networks were active, but there was less connectivity, which researchers believe is evidence that they “were straining to understand.”

Animated story = “Too hot”

For the children who watched the cartoon of the same story, there was lots of activity in the audio and visual perception parts of their brain, but not connecting elsewhere. Researchers believe that “the animation was doing all the work for the child.” The kids watching the cartoon also had the worst understanding of the story.

Story with pictures = “Just right”

The children’s understanding of the story was highest when the book was read aloud and they had illustrations to go along with it. Researchers also saw increased connectivity between and among all brain networks they were looking at, including visual perception and language.

This type of information can help parents and caregivers make the seemingly small but important decisions when it comes to reading to toddlers.

“When we read to our children, they are doing more work than meets the eye,” lead author Dr. John Hutton told NPR. “It’s that muscle they’re developing bringing the images to life in their minds.”

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