How to Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums
Toddlers are well known for their fiery tantrums that can cause even the best of us to get frustrated.
The blood-curling screams, the instant loss of muscle control, toys getting thrown all over the place – all because they couldn’t get their way.
This age is hard, not only because of the boundless amounts of energy but because they are wildly sensitive and aren’t even close to controlling their emotions at this age.
I’ve had to witness my share of tantrums, and each child has their way of showing their frustration. It’s never fun, but now that I have dealt with this for six children (currently going through it), it does help me to know how to tame the tantrums.
What’s challenging is when you have two who might meltdown at the same time. Someone, please help!
In all seriousness, knowing that you can’t control your tiny human from feeling all the emotions in such a powerful way, you as a parent, have a responsibility to tame the tantrums before your toddler gets the best of you.
Most importantly – you should remember they are making a statement; they want the world to know they aren’t happy.
What does that mean for you? Should you give in? Should you ignore them?
Here are 5 helpful ways you can tame toddler tantrums for good:
1. Keep Them Safe
Toddlers can get so into their tantrums that they aren’t aware of any immediate danger in their way. Ever witnessed your child fall right on the floor and bump their head?
It can be hard to catch them in the moment but feel assured it happens to the best of us.
From that moment, ensure your child is away from any further danger. Is there an object nearby that they could possibly throw and injure themselves or someone else? Could they kick something that could break?
Ensure they are free to have their tantrum without getting hurt.
2. Ignore Them
After you’ve made sure they are free from harm, walk away from them. Remember, they want the world to know they’re upset, so try not to feed into it.
The longer you hang around and entertain them, the more they know they have your full attention.
Turn your back to them, or walk away. They’ll eventually get the hint that you aren’t giving in.
After your child is calm, you can talk to them like this: “Olivia, I know you’re upset because of “xyz,” but you will not get that right now, okay? Mommy/daddy love you.”
Keep it simple and move on. The longer you talk to them about what happened, the likelier it is for them to have another tantrum.
Try not to talk to them in the middle of the tantrum. They’re already worked up and won’t listen; if anything, the situation could accelerate.
3. Distract or Redirect Them
If you can catch your toddler before the full meltdown occurs, think about how you can distract them.
For example, my toddler was about to have a tantrum from me taking something from her, so I redirected her to something else she liked. This prevented a meltdown from happening.
4. Know Their Triggers
Many toddler tantrums can be avoided if you know what is triggering them in the first place.
Are they tired? Are they hungry? Are they overstimulated? Are they teething?
There can be an overwhelming amount of issues occurring, but if we can eliminate the triggers, the better mood they will have overall.
I would recommend doing a body check on your child at least once a day. There have been multiple times when I’ve realized that my twins were more fussy than usual, and I’d remember that they likely had new teeth coming in.
And 99% of the time, that was the case. So, check their mouths often. Two-year-old molars are hard on our little ones, so they could definitely be having tantrums more often due to teething.
Also, check their bodies. Sometimes your toddler might have bumped into something that left a scar or bruise that you don’t notice until later. This could be bothering her, and since many can’t communicate very well at this age, it could result in another tantrum.
My toddler is prone to eczema, so when I check him, he might have small patches on his back or neck that I try to treat regularly, but I often forget that he could be bothered by it, which could result in a tantrum.
Children can also be sensitive to tags on their shirts, their socks, etc. Oh, don’t forget about a diaper rash.
Sometimes, it can be hard to eliminate triggers.
For example, if your toddler refused to nap that day, then he is more likely to be hypersensitive to situations that might result in a tantrum.
But if he skipped a nap, could you try to get them down for bed a little earlier?
It’s easy to get frustrated when they have tantrums, but it might help to know what is triggering them to act out.
A simple meal or nap might do the trick and help stabilize their mood.
5. Model Good Behavior and Be Patient
Have you ever thought you might be teaching your little one a thing or two about handling emotions if you can’t get a grip on yours?
Certainly, you don’t go stomping around and throwing things when you’re upset, right? But could you be modeling negative behavior when you are?
Do they have an older sibling that is acting out? Try to remove the older child from your toddler so they don’t feed off of their siblings.
Remember, your child is watching everyone in the home and will feed off of any negativity. Modeling appropriate behavior is so important.
Patience is also key.
Our children’s brains are growing rapidly at this age, so remember to be patient. It may seem like a never-ending process, but know that this too shall pass.
While tantrums tend to start around 18 months, you can expect your child to grow out of tantrums around 3 years old. While this may seem and feel like an eternity, it will get better.
Just know that every one of us has been through it or is currently going through it. If you are concerned about your child after having tried these tips and aren’t seeing any improvement, talk to your child’s health professional to see if there are other issues causing the tantrums.
Also, seek encouragement or help from your spouse, other family members, or friends to give yourself a break.
Now that you have these five simple, effective strategies to tame your toddler’s tantrums, you’re on your way to being better prepared for the inevitable battles.
Hang in there. You’ve got this!
What are some ways you tame your toddler’s tantrums?