Today we are talking about how to deal with toddler tantrums.
“NO!” Her foot stamps on the ground, her eyes blazing with the fierceness of a thousand suns. She’s only 2 but she’s got the attitude and the boldness of a teenager. If you tell her not to do something, she’ll do it, just to see the reaction. She’s testing boundaries, testing to see if I mean what I say.
I’ve experienced the wailing, the foot stomping, the defiance. Dealing with toddler tantrums comes with the territory of having a young child.
With my firstborn, I remember the testing. When she didn’t like what she was told, her response was to go “boneless.” She would crumple to the ground leaving me to either drag her along, or let her lie on the ground while she finished lodging her complaint with management.
My son would flat out say “NO!” and run in the opposite direction.
Here’s 5 tips for how to deal with toddler tantrums like a pro.
1) Toddler Need Routine
The number one thing you can do to diminish frequent tantrums is have a predictable routine.
If you plan out your day in a very structured way, your child will come to expect what will normally happen, how you will react in various situations, and learn how they are to act in those situations.
Creating an environment of order and structure reduces tantrum triggers.
Most toddlers have meltdowns when they are hungry or tired.
Being hangry is a real thing! If you are following a routine, you will reduce the likelihood of a toddler temper tantrum.
Repetition and routine are key to helping a child thrive. You can read about our daily routine here.
2) Stand your ground
You have a daily schedule, but your toddler is still throwing major tantrums? It happens. Tantrums happen. Let them happen.
It’s definitely better for a toddler to have tantrums, than for them to figure out that if they scream loud enough, they will get their way. Don’t give in.
Make sure you acknowledge that your child’s feelings are being heard. Sometimes this is as easy as making an “I noticed” statement. For example, “I noticed that the girl took the swing you wanted and that made you feel sad.” However, at the same time, help your child understand that their temper tantrum is not the correct way to handle the problem.
We’ve all seen an older child who is way too big to be throwing a tantrum having a complete toddler moment. Don’t let that be your child.
Let them learn when they are toddlers that you will react in a predicable nature every time. Let them see that they are getting nowhere by throwing a tantrum. Stand your ground.
3) Give Choices when Dealing with Tantrums
Something that works amazingly for my kids is to give them choices. When a situation begins, I go into “giving choices” mode.
I tell the child, “You have a choice. You can go out of the kitchen like mommy asked OR you can go to your room.”
Or, “You can choose to share those blocks OR you can go do a puzzle.”
Giving choices gives them a sense of being in control of the situation. It can help defuse a toddler tantrum.
A child with big feelings and strong emotions about a situation might need to be walked through the process of sharing or saying sorry to a friend if needed.
If things a child’s temper tantrum escalates into a less manageable fit, I escalate appropriately and make a choice for them, or send them to time-out.
4) Find Motivation
Figure out what works for your kid. Every child is different. What motivates one kid, does not motivate another.
I wrote a list of everything that motivates positive behavior for my 3 year old and put it on the fridge. That way, when I am in the moment, I can refer to the list.
When I need a punishment and there’s no “natural consequence” at hand, I can refer to the list.
My list includes missing out on special things like chocolate milk or a juice box. Sometimes it’s something I take away, like tv time. Sometimes all you have to do is mention, do I need to take away________________? and the child is able to calm themselves.
I often use the phrase “Do you want to lose a privilege?” to get them back on track. I’ve taught my kids that “losing a privilege” means losing something that everyone else will get, such as juice, choice of breakfast cereal, etc.
5) Expectations and Consequences
Set the expectation along with the consequence.
I often say, “the kids that are listening to me and following directions are going to get milk and stories, the ones who are not are going straight to bed.”
It only takes missing milk and stories once for them to realize I’m serious.
Also, I use similar phrasing when I need all 4 of them to put away their outdoor toys and come in for supper. I say, “I am watching for the best helpers and the best helpers are going to get a Starburst. The kids who are not helping clean up will not get one.”
I don’t give out candy every time, but when I see that the situation may need it, I am ready to offer it on my terms.
6) Give Responsibility in dealing with tantrums
A great strategy for dealing with misbehavior is to put the decision in their hands.
If they are throwing a fit, I tell them that they seem very grumpy and they will need to go to their room. When they feel better, they can come out and join the rest of the family.
Of course, you might have to send them back if they return right away and engage in the same behavior. It might take a few times for them to understand the concept, but after a while, they will get it and be able to manage their own “timeout.”
Finally, I just want to say, this too will pass. It’s a normal stage for young kids in child development.
This stage is so fleeting. You’ve got this. Stand your ground and you will be through it before you know it.
I hope this has helped you with howI hope this has left you feeling empowered as a parent that you can do this! You can deal with your toddler’s tantrum like a pro. If you have any comments, feel free to drop a message below!
Be sure to check out my other articles:
The perfect Toddler Schedule and Routine
Free Printable Potty Charts
What age does this start? My son is 13 months old and I’m wondering if his big emotions are tantrums or frustration with lack of community.
Hey Audra! Tantrums can definitely start as early as 13 months. The term “terrible 2’s” is deceptive because it really does start earlier and go longer than age 3. Consistency is key. A lot of boundary pushing is to see what happens…and if the same thing happens each time. Good luck!