The best way to calm an infant is by modeling the type of behaviour you want from them. If you’ve ever watched a toddler closely, they copy everything a person does. And while they might not do it right away, eventually the types of things you do and the ways you handle stress will be reflected directly in your child.
This is why it’s so unfortunate that parents feel so out of control when their toddler throws tantrums. While it’s true that emotions are new to your toddler and it takes practice to learn to live with our disappointments, now’s the time to knock the emotions in your house down a notch. Seeing as how it’s such an important skill to learn, one less distraction, namely bad examples by parents, is all that much more valuable. Show your child how you deal with disappointment, how you have to wait and be patient and how you share with your child.
While how to act might seem obvious to you, your baby needs a great deal of socialization and actions carry far more heft than do words. You can tell your toddler to calm down all you want, but if you’re screaming it, it’s doing no good whatsoever. This is why I always recommend lowering and calming your voice in response to crisis – always. Go from emotionally charged voice to monotone rational voice right away. Shrink the distance and encourage your toddler to use his words to make his point. You really want your child to feel able to communicate his concerns. Now I never did say that you need to obey his wants or needs, but you do need to hear them out. After he’s said his peace, now is the time to put in your two cents as to why his requests can’t be met. If you carry enough integrity and can master with consistency meeting any and all reasonable requests, denying unreasonable ones will be easy and expected from your toddler.
Some examples where you might deny requests can be due to needing time to unwind, needing time to prepare dinner, it being time for bed, denying food because it’s too close to lunch or dinner and so forth. If you set these rules and guidelines and stay consistent, all you’ll need to do is cite the reason and your toddler will know that it’s not the time to ask for something. If you break your own rules and start denying requests based purely on emotional (random) reasons then your toddler is likely to do the same when he’s upset.
Remember that while some behaviours can appear spontaneously with developmental milestones, many also appear as a mirror of things he sees from his primary role models – his parents. Just as you’re careful not to curse in front of your talking toddler, you need to be careful not to act-out inappropriately as well.