This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for more information.
You tried bribing, pleading, distracting, and even punishing but you still can’t get those toddler tantrums under control. Leaving the house is turning into a monumental task and getting anything done, well you can just about forget about that.
Until now. Toddler tantrums don’t have to take over.
Use these easy tactics to tame those toddler tantrums for good.
1. Calm yourself first.
It’s nearly impossible to respond from a place of empathy and understanding if you’re upset and frustrated. Take a few long deep breaths before responding to your child especially if you feel yourself getting worked up.
It also helps to think of the bigger picture instead of getting wrapped up in the chaos of the moment. In the long run, the fact that your toddler refuses to put on their shoes won’t matter. If you need help loosening up try doing something silly to make yourself and your child laugh. The key is to find ways to get your emotions under control before helping your child manage theirs.
2. Validate your toddler’s emotions.
Saying no tells your toddler you’re not hearing what they’re trying to tell you and their protests will only get louder as they try to get through to you. Instead of using the no word, say this instead, “You wanted (fill in the blank with what your child wants).” Use their name in place of “you” if you have to. Show them you’re listening. Match their intensity, so they know you understand how very important this is to them.
It may take a few tries, but eventually, they will realize you’re hearing them and this will validate their emotions.
You may even hear them respond with a “yes” and their cries will lessen. Don’t give up if this doesn’t work the first time. It may take a couple of tries for your words to get through especially in the midst of a full-blown tantrum.
3. Redirect, redirect and redirect!
To help diffuse an emotionally intense situation and calm your little one down sooner try to redirect their attention to a task.
If they’re acting out on a trip to the grocery store, ask them to help pick out a bunch of bananas or if they’re frustrated with a toy, encourage them to try a different one instead.
The logical parts of their brain including reasoning are not fully developed yet, so redirection is a valuable tool to have in your tantrum toolbox.
4. Use simple language.
It’s tempting to what to jump in immediately with a long-winded explanation of why your toddler can’t have or do what they want. Instead, keep it simple with a short statement: “We don’t hit,” or “We don’t throw toys.” Once they’ve calmed down, you can use more details if you like but in the heat of things, your toddler is likely not going to understand anything more than a few short words.
5. Understand where your child is coming from.
As busy parents, it’s easy to think that children should understand everything that’s happening around them but the truth is toddlers are still learning. They truly have no idea about your schedules, commitments or long to-do lists.
Put yourself in their shoes by thinking for a moment what it must feel like to be told what to do and often rushed from here to there. Keep things in perspective by reminding yourself your toddler still has lots of growing up to do.
6. Prevent a tantrum before it happens.
Toddlers are learning and their brains are growing at astounding rates. They’re also asserting their independence and experimenting with trying to do things on their own. Do a little detective work to see what’s causing their outbursts and try to change things beforehand if you can.
If it’s leaving the house in a rush, give yourself extra time so you can be more patient as they try to buckle themselves into their car seat. Or if you know that tantrums start escalating in the evening try putting your toddler to bed earlier as they may be overtired.
Experiment and see what works and what doesn’t but start from a foundation of understanding.
7. Practice self-care.
Being patient, understanding and calm takes an immense amount of energy. If you’re running on only a few hours of sleep regularly and not making time for exercise or healthy eating it will be nearly impossible to keep a positive perspective and effectively handle your toddler’s outbursts. Take care of yourself by practicing a healthy lifestyle and asking for help when you need it.
8. Be there for your child.
Every child’s needs are different. Some like to be held while others need some space. Respond to your child based on their unique temperament and needs. Also, remember to make eye contact when you speak to your child and bend down so you’re at their level. These subtle body language shifts support connection and understanding which is often what a toddler needs most during a tantrum.
9. Use time ins, not timeouts.
With time ins parents go with their toddlers to a quiet area to calm down instead of leaving them to figure things out on their own. The time in space can include a few calming activities such as drawing materials, stuffed animals, and books. Once your child is calm, you can then address their behavior and help them process their emotions.
10. Let your child know how much you love them.
During a tantrum, your toddler is experiencing so many big emotions, and this can be scary. Give your little one a hug and let them know you love them so they can feel at ease again.
Tantrums are a normal part of a child’s development and despite what it feels like, toddlers aren’t trying to make your days stressful. They’re just learning how to express themselves so encourage them along the way. With your patience and support, they will learn how to effectively manage their big emotions which is a gift that will last well beyond the toddler years.
About the Author
Rosey Hwang is a mama of two, a writer and a mompreneur. She helps moms simplify and live their wildest dreams at simplybemama.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter to discover ways to simply live your best life.