September 26, 2013 02:00 PM

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Big pout! Crossed arms! Sad face! We all know the hallmarks of an impending toddler fit. Really, the question isn’t if, but when will you experience this always fun (not!) childhood stage.

According to Lawrence Rosen, MD, all children start having them around one year. It represents a struggle with authority and it’s their way of trying to make sense of the universe, which is a normal stage of development he says.

The tricky part is mastering how you handle it so that everyone — even the screaming tot on the floor — ends up happy in the long run.

So how can you maintain your sanity while coping with your kid’s meltdowns? The pediatrician and author (Treatment Alternatives for Children), who founded the Whole Child Center, shares some helpful tips that will help you create a healthy and balanced child. Check them out below:

Pick your battles. If you let it, every minute of your day with your little one can become a power struggle. Think ahead and decide what things are worth going to the mat. Spend more time creating safe places for exploration so you don’t have to say “NO!” all day long.

Be consistent. When you do draw the line, you have to mean it and you (and all caregivers) have to be on the same page. Saying no and then changing your mind half-way through a tantrum is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Once you’ve decided when enough is going to be enough, you have to follow through and stand firm. Kids are master manipulators and they will know the difference.

Don’t pay it attention. What is the best way to ensure your child does something over and over? Give it attention. It’s like oxygen to a fire. This goes for the good… and the bad. Make sure you spend your energy praising and rewarding when they do something positive and avoid power struggles over their not-so-desirable acts. If your child is in a safe place and having a tantrum, let her be and check back in when she calms down. And then move on.

Be calm. This, I think, is the most important point and the hardest to master. Above all, you must be mindful and do your best to remove your emotion from the struggle. You must find the means to stay engaged without getting riled up. Cultivate whatever tools you need — meditation or yoga for example — to stay calm but firmly present. Remember, this too shall pass.

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