5 Simple Tips for Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

12 May 2014 Caitlin White Family 0 Comments

New mom, experienced mom, and tired mom all have one thing in common. They’re in for some tantrums when their little ones ain’t so little anymore.

When the ‘terrible twos’ come knocking, many a mother has been known to despair. And by despair, I mean practically rip their hair out.

Screaming, crying and yoga-esque positions on the living room floor are just some of the things you can expect from your toddler.

And as frustrating as they are for us moms, the truth of the matter is that they are much more frustrating for our little darlings.

Just this morning, I found myself blushing profusely in the middle of a busy mall, while my son screamed and rolled around on the floor nearby.

Turns out, he doesn’t like being taken out of a shop until he’s ready. But can you blame him? Imagine you had as little freedom as your child does?

If parents everywhere want to learn to deal with tantrums, we have to understand them. That’s why I’ve compiled this helpful list of tips for dealing with a toddler in the throes of a tantrum.

Tip 1: Associate and Ask

Here’s the thing: there are two types of tantrums. One is a straight up frustration and the other is downright disobedience. They’re often easy to mix up. So, when your child starts screaming, try to identify what they’re upset about.

If you’ve just taken a toy away, then chances are your son or daughter is angry about it. And while it’s infuriating that they deal with their disappointment in this way, it’s not really something you should punish them for.

However, when you tell a toddler NOT to do something, they continue, you step in and they have a thrombosis on the bedroom floor, you’ve got a different problem. Here is where you implement Tip number 5.

Regardless of kind, you should always start by getting down to your child’s level (on your knees) and asking them what they are upset about. Even if they can’t talk yet, it sets a precedent: ‘Mommy cares what you’re upset about and wants to help you’. Toddlers who are starting to articulate might even be able to tell you what the problem is. That’s a huge step.

How to handle toddler tantrums

Image by Liza

Tip 2: Calm Down

Always handle any situation with a calm, assertive attitude. Leave the temper tantrums to your toddler. By remaining calm, you exert your authority over the situation and remain in control. Yes, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but take a second and a deep breath in the heat of the moment. Try to understand where your child is coming from.

Tip 3: Discuss

After asking why they’re upset, talk to them about why they can’t do what they want to do. This might be a little hard if little Johnny is yelling his head off, but do it anyway. I’ve tried this technique many times, and can tell you that it usually works. By using a commanding yet soothing tone and explaining why my son can’t do something, I give his frustration credence, thereby satisfying his cry for help or attention.

Tip 4: Distract

If you’ve had no luck thus far, and your screaming critter is completely ignoring you, then whip out something to distract him. His favorite toy will work well.

How to handle toddler tantrums

Image by Citril

Tip 5: Time Out

This can apply for frustration tantrums too, though in that case this is not a form of punishment. For frustration cries, place your toddler in his crib, chair or corner and tell him that he needs to calm down. Then you can choose to stay with him, or leave him there alone.

The same applies for disobedience cries (which are sometimes a form of frustration too). Stick the accusing terrible two-er in their crib and leave them to calm down. Then come back and explain the situation. Ask for an apology and thank them when they give it.

Don’t yell. Don’t smack. These actions only encourage the same thing in return.

The best thing any parent can do is try to understand their toddler’s perspective. This period of growth is very frustrating and equally important, because it forms the basis of a child’s future interactions. They’re caught in between two worlds.

Handle these times with calm and understanding, and you’ll nourish their free will and creativity whilst providing a firm disciplinary background.

Have any tips for dealing with toddler tantrums? Or stories of public episodes of embarrassment? Do share them in the comment box below.


Caitlin is a single mom of a two year old, tantrum-filled toddler. When she’s not rescuing the cats from his pinchy fingers, she’s writing on all things mom.
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