How to get through meal prep without a tantrum?

This parent asks, How can I get through meal prep without a tantrum? Watch to find out how you can prevent meltdowns when you are trying to cook a meal or prepare a snack.  Learn how to calm big emotions when they inevitably happen during dinner prep. Positive Discipline offers tools to invite cooperation and teach important life skills to our littles. 

For other tips on including kids in meal prep: Making Dinner Together blog

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Welcome to our next installment of the Sproutable parent Q&A. Thanks to our latest viewer who sent in a question. She has a waddler who is always throwing a temper tantrum as soon as they come into the kitchen and so she's just really struggling.

She said I can't even take by the time it takes to get a yogurt out of the fridge or cut up an apple it seems to be full-on meltdown mode. So what i suggest are some ideas preventatively and then also in the moment.

Prevention-wise it's great to set up a station. Our little ones really want us to be close to them all the time or at least have that comfort of us being near them so for my first child, I set up a blanket in the kitchen away from the stove with her favorite toy of that time or some blocks or a couple of books that she would like to look through and her stuffies and just set up a little play station right there. You can also pull out the Tupperware drawer or throw down a pot and pan with some wooden spoons so even if they're not it doesn't feel like they're old enough to really be included in the prep at least they can be physically near you.

By the time my second rolled around I did not have a comfortable blanket on the floor I just tossed a few toys out and let her play. So I think there's some piece too maybe if she was feeling this resistance, like that she's got to be involved in this meal prep and really she wants to just keep playing or doing her own thing and still feeling like she's more independent, but in that moment if your kiddo is having that full-on tantrum in the kitchen and you're just trying to get the meal prepped then you definitely want to attend give comfort.

At this age the waddler usually has that big tantrum because they need something or want something or they're feeling really uncomfortable. It's not quite in that toddler preschool - just tantrums out of nowhere seemingly - so really trying to attend to is she hungry is there a way to get her into the high chair into the seat and set up with a few nibbles just immediately or is there something else going on is there something that's triggering her about that room. Maybe having that play station will change that association.

Feel free to take that moment and just to attend and give comfort. I know there's that nagging feeling in the back like I've got to get that meal prepped so sometimes I would make sure they were safe, give a little bit of comfort,

"I'm sorry that you're feeling so sad right now."

and then just really be transparent.

"I'm just going to go turn the water on and I'll be right back."

Maybe you're setting them in a crib or a pack n' play so they're safe. Then go over turn the water on - right get the water boiling so you don't feel like you're wasting time or losing time - go back attend to them. Give them some more comfort let them know it's okay to have their feelings and it's time to get dinner ready so just even that attunement and trying to figure out what's going on for them is going to give them comfort.

In the meantime trying to just redirect and distract as well

Good luck! I hope that helps. I know mealtimes and meal prep is always a battle and just that never-ending quest for the balance of being able to just get it all done.

I feel you. I'm with you. Thanks so much for writing in and I hope to hear more questions we hope to hear all of your questions here on our Sproutable parent Q&A


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