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Published on August 31, 2018

Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

When it comes to the third trimester, you are tired and uncomfortable. You’re desperately ready for the baby to make his or her debut. But this final stretch of pregnancy symbolizes a whole lot more than fatigue followed by labor and delivery whilst you continue to work your 9-5.

In the third trimester you’ll start experiencing things like big feet, blotchy skin, constipation, incontinence blurry vision, bleeding gums, lacking sleep, more sickness and leaking breasts!

Cheers miracle making – we can’t wait, but this is about survival. Working in the third trimester could be tough for moms, but here’s how to not just survive but thrive through your third trimester at work.

The physiology during the third trimester

The third trimester, starting at 28 weeks, comes along with a whole host of new changes in your body. The size and weight of your bundle of joy grows, consequently you’ll be kicked internally, experience lower back pain and/or pelvic pain due to the change in your centre of gravity and have a tiny person using your bladder as a cushion.

Accompanying that you’ll experience swelling in your ankles, feet and hands as well as delightful disruptions in your sleep. Emotions run high and stress can elevate as you await, somewhat anxiously, the inevitable upturn of your life.

You may feel as if time is running out to get everything ready, you’re not performing at your best at work and that you’re constantly tired.

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All of this is compounded by the physiological changes listed above and you’re guaranteed to be searching for gaining energy, vitality and maximise the rest of your time in work.

It’s time to thrive at work – not just survive the third trimester.

Common obstacles at work in your third trimester

  • Clumsiness – That kind from disrupted sleep and leaves you feeling less than your best.
  • Difficulty concentrating and getting stuff done – Partly hormonal, partly lack of sleep, partly stress. All of this adds up to your mind jumping all over the place whilst at work and concentration lacking.
  • Discomfort at your desk or standing all day – Because as the weight at the front of your body increases it changes the positioning of your pelvis. The front dips forward to accommodate your bundle of joy which consequently puts pressure through your lumbar spine.
  • Frequent bathroom breaks – To pee and to try and poop as you experience constipation from a tiny person pressing on your bladder and intestines.
  • High stress levels with emotional outbursts – Because hormones and the (potential self imposed) expectations of what you’ve got to finish and do.
  • Forgetfulness – Baby brain is real. Combine the stress, the lack of sleep and any would become forgetful.
  • Pressure to complete tasks before you leave for maternity – Because you want to leave feeling accomplished and beneficial to your company.

How to survive and thrive

This really comes down to three parts: food, movement and mindfulness. There are several tools which I’ll discuss now.

Food

Whilst you’re growing a person, it’s important to realise that you needn’t ‘eat for two’. Simply adding an extra 300kCal per day is all that’s required.

The most important thing to bear in mind is food quality – so enjoying a whole foods, varied diet with plenty of green vegetables, fish, smart carbohydrates and fibre.

Washing this down with plenty of water. Having reached the third trimester I know you’ll be conscious of what you’re eating to provide the best for your unborn.

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You can use the following adjustments to make the best of your nutrition during this time.

  1. Eat small and frequent meals to allow for the compressed size of your stomach. This will reduce symptoms of heart burn and constipation.
  2. ‘Drink your food, chew your water’. Chew your food thoroughly so that it is completely combined with saliva beginning the digestion process. A good rule to use is to chew each mouthful 30 times. Chewing your water similarly combines the water with salvia so that it can be more easily absorbed by your body reducing swelling.
  3. Take time to eat away from your desk, which is something I recommend to everyone. This practice helps to lower stress, become more mindful of your meal and a mental break from your day to reduce stress.
  4. Drink so much water, which even though it means you’ll be nipping to the loo more frequently aids lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is throughout the body and carries fluid, removes toxins and when blocked causes swollen joints. By drinking more you are turning the lymphatic system from a swamp like condition to a flowing river. This means your aching swollen joints will reduce.
  5. Focus on high nutrient dense foods which are high in volume to assist your satiety, concentration and fuel your baby’s growth. Because when you are fuelling right you feel right on the inside and out.

Movement

Regardless of whether your pregnant or not sitting OR standing ALL day isn’t good for your health. According to British Journal of Sports Medicine:[1]

“Every hour of television watched may reduce our lifespan by an average of 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette, on the other hand, reduces our lifespan by about 11 minutes.”

The pain, clumsiness, foggy headedness, difficulty concentrating and stress of the third trimester can all be combated by movement.

These movement tweaks can accompany your day whilst you’re working to thrive through your third trimester at work:

  1. Practicing breath work which will help in part to release the diaphragm which contributes to postural imbalances and has a further benefit of reducing stress. 3 to 5 times per day hug yourself wrapping your arms around your rib cage, breath into your hands so that your rib cage expands whilst keeping the shoulders down and relaxed. Breathe in for a count of 2 to 3 and out for a count of 4 to 5.
  2. Request an ergonomically suited chair to give you the utmost support taking pressure off leaning into uncomfortable positions to get closer to your computer screen to concentrate. Not only will this make your working environment more productive but it will also relieve pressure.
  3. Get up and move frequently either using a smart watch for movement tracking or setting reminders on your phone at least once per hour. Stand whilst you’re on the phone rather than remaining seated. By doing so you will improve circulation to reduce swelling as well as taking pressure off your joints.
  4. Stretch your hip flexors, the muscle at the front of your thighs. As your posture changes from the new weight distribution in your body, your quads become tight and consequently cause back pain. This is a big key hitter when it comes to removing back pain and boosting recovery post birth.
  5. Use a foam roller at your desk focusing on rolling your calves, quads, hips and chest. These areas are areas which, due to the postural changes, become very tight throughout pregnancy and beyond. Beginning foam rolling these areas now will reduce tension through your neck, shoulders and lower back whilst assisting drainage through your feet and ankles.

Mindfulness

Whatever type of birth plan you’re creating you’ll have spent and be spending time thinking of all you need to for the big day and time after. This energy that you’re putting out is essential for your peace of mind now and moving forwards.

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As your date comes nearer and closer by the day its more than likely your thoughts are ahead in that future. Being mindful to remain in the present is essential to remaining calm, thriving and surviving your last weeks of pregnancy.

Here are four ways to remain mindful and present:

  1. Ask for help. Designate projects to people if you go into labour early. Reach out to your co-workers and delegate away things that add to your stress levels. Whilst asking for help can sometimes be uncomfortable and stressful, this habit will leave you feeling less stressed and comfortable in your role.
  2. Don’t overextend yourself as it’s ok to not promise the world. Slow down to get more done. By being realistic, you will not exhaust yourself aiming to reach unrealistic expectations leading up to your due date.
  3. Take mental health days especially if you already have kids at home. The need to get all the things done and look after the kids at the weekend can mean that you don’t have down days over the weekend. Taking time through the week will enable you to really rest and take time for yourself whilst you can.
  4. Dress comfortably in all the dresses, supportive shoes and layers. Because there is nothing more irritating than seams digging into you, tired feet and being too hot or too cold. When you’re comfortable, you’re less stressed and more calm. All good for bump and YOU.
  5. Don’t set a defined maternity leave date. Have a ball park but you may find that you become more fatigued sooner than you thought or if you start too soon that you’ll become too restless. Play by ear and listen to your body having open communication with your boss. This can massively reduce your stress and expectations enabling you to go with the flow more easily.

Final thoughts

Because this is the time that you have with yourself for the last time. You’ll have a tiny person to consume your time moving forwards. Using these three tips for each area can really help you be your best you throughout your life and work during your third trimester. It really is a time not only just to survive but to thrive.

Look at each area and start with one tip to focus on for a week or two and see how it impacts your life. So for example picking to ‘drink your food, chew your water’, ‘practicing breath work’ and ‘asking for help’ are small steps that will make a huge difference.

And the great thing about them is that they won’t ADD time to your day, they will actually take time and energy away. You already have to eat so eat with more consciousness. You already have to breathe so do it with awareness. You already have to do work, so ask for someone to help with what you’ve got.

The third trimester is a time of anticipation and excitement for the baby’s arrival. Fear and worry about childbirth and caring for the baby after birth are common but needn’t interrupt your time at work. Using these techniques all good ways to prepare for childbirth and decrease anxiety.

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Some women may feel less attractive due to body changes, partner support and reassurance is very important during this time. Father’s may also feel anxious about their role in the childbirth process and question their ability to parent and provide for a larger family.

Everyone may begin to feel impatient for the baby’s birth. Remember to enjoy your baby’s kicks inside you for these last few weeks and be sure to spend special time with your partner and other children- life is about to change!

So, commit to yourself and do these practices and techniques for you, for now. By doing them, you’re alleviating pressure, removing pain and thriving your last trimester.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Camilla Dempster

A prenatal/postnatal expert who teaches women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

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Published on April 18, 2019

An Expert Parenting Guide to Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

An Expert Parenting Guide to Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

My daughter who is now seven, was two-and-a-half years old when we visited an indoor playground. I vividly recall her complete meltdown and tantrum when I said it was time to go home. She threw herself with full gusto onto the padded floor of the play area and began to wail with tears streaming down her face.

At the time, I had twins who were about six months old. I had already loaded them into their car seats and snapped the car seats into the stroller. I was ready to head home and get everyone down for a nap, so I could nap as well. At that moment when my daughter began to wail, I felt like I wanted to cry too. Short on sleep, hungry, and with my hands full with three children ages two and under, I was feeling overwhelmed.

When my toddler’s meltdowns had happened at home, I didn’t feel overwhelmed or flustered. However, when this particular meltdown happened in public, which became the first of many, I wanted to cry, or make her somehow stop her tantrum, or just hide from the dozen or so people watching this situation unfold as their sweet children played happily on the indoor climbing structure.

I tried to reason with my daughter. That didn’t help at all. If anything, that made her wail even louder causing some eyebrows to go up around me. I could almost hear them thinking “can’t she control her child.” My response would have been “well obviously I can’t!” Nobody said a word to me though.

When the reasoning didn’t work, it led to me pleading with her to get off the ground and walk to the car with me, so we could have a nice lunch at home. I then tried to bribe her. I said if she went to the car, I would give her candy. I had remembered that there was a sucker in the side door of my car from the pediatrician’s office that I hadn’t let her have the day before. I probably would have given her $100 in that moment. I just wanted the tantrum to stop.

She continued with her wailing, thrashing on the ground, and crying for several more minutes. Nothing I was saying or doing was working. In the end, I picked her up and put her under my arm and carried her surf board style out of the building while pushing the double stroller with my other hand. Another parent held the door open for me. By this point, I could see other parents were feeling sorry for me in this situation.

After this public meltdown and a few more later that week, I started to read up on toddler tantrums and how to handle them. I found techniques that worked! It may not necessarily ease my embarrassment when they happened in public, but I learned how to handle the tantrums in the best way possible to simply get through the toddler tantrum stage.

We may not be able to eliminate all toddler tantrums, but we can learn ways to minimize them. Below are helpful tips for all parents of toddlers.

Ignore the Tantrum and Don’t Give in!

Your toddler is throwing tantrums because they are looking to get your attention or get something they want. More often than not, they are doing it because they want something.

In my daughter’s case, she wanted to stay at the playground longer. If I had given in and let her play longer, I would have been teaching her that if she has a temper tantrum, then she gets to stay longer.

Never give in to the child. You are reinforcing their tantrum throwing behaviors when you give them what they want. For example, if you are out shopping and your toddler throws a fit because they want a candy bar at the checkout, then giving them the candy bar to make them quiet only teaches them to have a tantrum the next time you are in a store — your child now knows that they can get the candy bar if they have a tantrum.

Don’t give in to their tantrum by giving them what they want, even if it is something small and inconsequential to you. If you have said no, stand your ground. Caving in and giving your child what they want when they have a temper tantrum reinforces the bad behavior. You will end up with a child who throws even more tantrums because you have taught them through cause and effect that tantrum throwing gets them what they want.

Do Nothing

Your child needs to learn that temper tantrums get them nothing. Some children do it because they are seeking attention. Give your child attention, but not while the tantrum is happening.

If you recognize that they are throwing temper tantrums because they want more attention from you, then make an effort to give them attention at a later time, when they aren’t throwing a tantrum.

When the child is in the midst of a tantrum do nothing, say nothing, and ignore their tantrum.

I learned very quickly that in the case of my daughter’s public tantrums, I could get them to stop by continuing to pack up our items and move toward the door with the intention to leave. I didn’t respond to her tantrum. Continuing my actions let her know that I was serious and I was leaving the building. It was amazing how she would quickly pick herself off the ground and sprint towards us, fearing that she would be left behind.

I never left my children anywhere, but if needed, I would go outside and stand on the other side of the glass door, watching her and simply waiting until she finished her fit and was ready to get up and come home with us.

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When she learned that her tantrum did not get her what she wanted and that she got even less attention from me while she was doing it, her behavior changed.

Avoid Trying to Calm The Child

Instinctively, we want to soothe our child and go to them to try to calm them down during a tantrum. This is not effective with temper tantrums, especially if they are doing it for attention.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, make all efforts to avoid calming the child down. If they are doing it for attention, then you are rewarding the temper tantrum by giving them attention. It communicates to the child that a tantrum will get your attention.

Solve the attention problem after the tantrum by spending quality time engaged with your child. However, don’t give them attention, even by trying to simply calm them, during the tantrum or you are reinforcing the bad behavior.

Warn Them in Advance

I also learned to be proactive in situations where tantrums had happened previously. I began giving my daughter a five minute warning at the playground. She was told on each visit to the playground when she had five minutes left to play and that we would leave immediately if she complained or throw a temper tantrum.

This was a warning that I gave very clearly every time we went to a playground. I always said this in a firm, yet kind tone “You get five more minutes to play and then we have to leave, if you complain or throw a tantrum then we have to leave immediately.” This worked amazingly well!

Letting them know what is expected is what kids want.

Keep Them Safe

If the child is a danger to themselves or others, for example, because they are throwing toys across the room during their tantrum, then physically remove the child and take them to a safe and quiet spot for them to calm down.

Some children need to be held so that they don’t harm themselves. Holding them gently, yet firmly, because they are hitting themselves, pulling their own hair, or slamming their body into walls, is important to do immediately when you see any self- harm take place.

Hold them and tell them you will release them when they have calmed down. Say it gently and with empathy while holding them just firmly enough so that they cannot harm themselves or others.

There is no need to be aggressive or squeeze the child in this process. Take action calmly, but with the intention to cease their harmful activity immediately.

After the Tantrum

Acknowledge that the child has complied by ending their tantrum. Giving a praise such as “I am glad you calmed down” will help to reinforce the ceasing of the bad behavior.

Not rewarding their tantrum is crucial in this process. If you give in and give them what they want and then they stop the tantrum, you are thereby praising them when they don’t deserve the praise because you gave into what they wanted. In doing this, you are defeating yourself.

Don’t give them what they are throwing the tantum about. For example, if it is because they want a certain toy and another child has that toy, then do not give them the toy because of the tantrum.

Praise them for stopping the tantrum once they calm themselves down. If they finish with their tantrum and you haven’t given in to what they were asking for, then praise them for calming themselves.

For example, if they have completely calmed down and the other child is now done with that toy, then you can give it to the child when they are completely calmed. Have them practice asking for the toy nicely. Let them know they get to play with the toy because they asked nicely, they aren’t throwing a tantrum, and because they have completely calmed down.

Get Professional Help if Needed

If you feel like your child’s tantrums are excessive or you are having difficulty handling the tantrums, then talk to your child’s pediatrician. They may be able to guide you.

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There are also medical reasons that can cause a child to throw tantrums more often. For example, they may have speech problems and they are frustrated that they cannot communicate with words what they want to express. This frustration can turn into tantrums.

Chronic pain or an underlying medical condition can be causing the child distress and discomfort which can lead to tantrums as well.

If you feel that the temper tantrums are beyond your ability to handle as a parent, or you feel that there may be some other reason for the continued tantrums, then speak with your child’s pediatrician.

Tips to Avoid Tantrums

There are some practical parenting methods that parents and caregivers can utilize that will help to diminish the occurrence of toddler temper tantrums. These tips may not entirely eliminate tantrums, but they can help to minimize them for occurring.

Giving Choices: The Love and Logic Model

Love and Logic parenting methods[1] are golden. In this method of parenting, it is taught that parents should give their child choices every day, all throughout the day.

Allowing the child to make choices gives the child a sense of control. For example, allowing a decision for which book to read at bed time whereby the parent offers two choices that they don’t mind reading. Another example is offering them two options of outfits to wear in the morning.

The parent chooses two options that are both acceptable and allows the child to make the final decision on which outfit they want to wear. This decision making helps the child feel that they have some control over their life.

When children are told where to go, what to do, and how to do it, with little or no flexibility they will act out. That acting out often comes in the form of tantrums with toddlers. They are at a phase where learning to be independent is part of their development. If their independence is completely crushed because they aren’t allowed to make any decisions, then they will act out.

Create Decision Making Opportunities

As parents and caregivers, we can create opportunities for decision making all throughout the day. By presenting options, all being acceptable to the parent, the child feels empowered and has a sense of independence that is natural in their developmental phase.

If you are experiencing tantrums daily and you have a controlled home environment, yet you can’t quite pinpoint the problem, try giving more choices to your child. They can’t tell you that they want choices and are working on developing their independence.

Developmentally children are seeking to become more independent little humans during the toddler phase, and offering them choices helps facilitate that need for independence.

Trying out choices will help them feel like they have some control of their life and activities. However, if the choices lead to tantrums because they don’t like the options presented, then you let them know that those are the options and if they don’t chose, you will have to choose for them.

Follow through and make the choice for them, if they continue throwing a temper tantrum. Don’t reward their bad behavior by allowing a choice. Take away the choice in that circumstance and moment in time because of the tantrum.

When it comes time to offer a decision later in the day, perhaps for example, offering them juice or water with their lunch, remind them that if they throw a tantrum, then you will make the decision for them.

Be Calm and Consistent

Be consistent in your parenting. When you give in to a tantrum one day by, for example, giving them the candy bar at the checkout to make them stop crying and the next time you yell at them, you are confusing your child.

By remaining calm, telling them what is expected, and following through each time they are on the verge of a tantrum or they are throwing a tantrum, you help eliminate the tantrums.

Consistently ignore the tantrum until they have stopped. Do not give in. Remain calm and do not yell or raise your voice. It makes things worse when you get heated in the midst of their tantrum. Count to ten or one-hundred if necessary.

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If you must remove the child from the situation, do so calmly and without berating them. Don’t give attention to the temper tantrum, other than praising them when they calm down on their own.

Ignore the actual temper tantrum while it is happening. This doesn’t mean leave them alone. You don’t want them to harm themselves or others, so stay close, but act unfazed by their tantrum.

Distractions

Your child may have some triggers. You may already be fully aware of what they are. It could be leaving the playground, going past the toy section while out shopping, or taking away items that are not safe for your child to be playing with.

Whatever the trigger may be, you can distract your child creatively and thereby avoid a temper tantrum. You have to remember that this temper tantrum phase is just that…a phase. You have to ride out the phase, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to avoid the tantrums using some creativity.

If you know that the back of the store where the toys are located will lead to a tantrum, then avoid that section of the store. If you know that your child likes to play with your phone and you don’t want them to play with your phone, but taking away the phone leads to a tantrum, then get creative.

Be prepared with a different object or toy to distract your child. Have this toy in your purse or in the car, so that you keep the child content, avoid the tantum, and without sacrificing your phone. Maybe you have an old flip phone in a junk drawer. The next time you are out doing errands and your toddler tries to reach into your purse for your phone, which is in the cart next to them, simply remove the purse and hand them the old flip phone.

If they throw the phone because it’s not the one they wanted, then put it away and say “I’m sorry you didn’t want it, now you won’t have anything to play with.” Teach them that their bad behavior won’t get them what they want. Try the flip phone another time (at a later time and different circumstance) and remind them that they don’t get your phone but they can have this phone, which is now theirs.

Act excited about the phone you are giving them, while also letting them know that if they throw it, you will put it away in your purse like you did the last time.

Be creative about distractions. They may not all work, but at least you tried something different. When you do find something that works, for example, you sing a little song to distract your toddler when you have to take away something they shouldn’t be playing with, like an extension cord or the dog food, then keep doing it.

When you find a distraction that works, keep using it until it no longer works and then try something new.

Ensure They Have Plenty of Sleep and Food

Children tend to act out when they are hungry or tired. If your toddler is not getting enough sleep at night, they will be prone to temper tantrums. If your child is having a tantrum and you realize that they are badly in need of a nap, then when they have calmed down, get them home and in their bed for a nap.

Toddlers are highly reactive when they haven’t had enough sleep or they are hungry. Toddlers are not equipped with the skills to express how they feel. When they are tired or hungry, it makes them upset, but most of the time they aren’t able to express that they are tired or hungry, instead anything can set them off into a temper tantrum.

Keeping toddlers on a good sleep schedule and keeping them feed every couple of hours, meaning meals with healthy snacks between meals, will help to minimize tantrums that occur because they tired or hungry.

Give Attention through Quality Time

Some temper tantrums occur because the child wants attention. It would be great if your toddler could approach you and say “I need some attention from you, I am feeling distant from you, so I need to you spend some quality time with me today.” Toddlers won’t say much, if anything at all. Instead, they act out.

Temper tantrums are often the easiest and quickest way to get adult attention. You can help to prevent this from happening by spending time with your toddler.

Get on the floor and play with their toys alongside of them. Read them books at bedtime. Give them hugs many times a day and let them know that they are good boy or good girl and that you love them very much.

These small actions throughout the day help your child know that you notice them. It is those moments of pointed, quality time and attention that keep their need for attention satisfied.

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Praise Positive Behaviors

If you fail to praise the positive behaviors, you may end up with a child who acts out and has tantrums so that they can get a reaction and attention from you.

Negative attention is better than no attention in the mind of toddler. Give them positive feedback and praise when they do something good.

Perhaps it was sharing a toy with a friend at the playground, they put a puzzle together on their own, or they adequately washed their hands before meal time. Whatever the small act was, if it was something you can praise them for, then say it. It will help them feel loved and that your attention is on them for that moment.

When you do this all day long, you are giving them positive feedback and reinforcing good behavior. It is a win-win situation.

Help the Child Better Communicate

A toddler’s vocabulary is limited. They have a hard time telling you what they want, even when they know exactly what they want. Perhaps they want juice, but that word isn’t in their vocabulary yet.

Sometimes asking your child to show you what they want can help bridge the lack of vocabulary. Tell the child that if they can’t tell you, they can try to show you what it is that they want. Let them know that you care and want to know what they are trying to express.

Tantrums often come from toddlers because they can’t express themselves or they feel that their parents aren’t trying to understand them. Again, it goes back to feeling ignored or lack of attention.

If you can see your child is wanting something, but you don’t know what it is exactly, don’t just brush them off and move on because you could likely be setting up the situation for a toddler tantrum. They get frustrated and temper tantrums is how they let it out.

If they do start the tantrum, let them have their tantrum, ignore it; once it is done, seek to help them communicate and assist you in understanding what it is that they want.

Final Thoughts

Temper tantrums are not a pleasant experience for parents, but are nonetheless a normal part of toddler development.

Most toddlers will have tantrums between the ages of one and three. Some extend beyond that age as well. The frequency of tantrums varies from one child to the next.

There are ways for parents to handle the temper tantrums that help to eliminate the behavior rather than reinforce the bad behavior. Ignoring the child during their temper tantrum is one of the best techniques to discourage temper tantrums.

There are also parenting behavior that can help reduce or minimize the occurrence of toddler tantrums. Some of these parenting behaviors include spending quality time with their child, praising good behavior that the child exhibits, and ensuring that the child gets plenty of food and sleep.

There is no magic cure for temper tantrums. They are part of the developmental process and a phase of life that toddlers go through.

The key for parents is to create an atmosphere where tantrums are minimized and positive behaviors are reinforced.

Featured photo credit: Mike Fox via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Love and Logic Parenting Methods

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