Even if you have never had any children, I can almost guarantee that you have, at some point, seen a child throwing the biggest toddler tantrum ever!

 

Why Do Toddlers Have Tantrums?

Most toddler tantrums are known to begin at around 18 months, although they can start before and after this time. The average ages of tantrums is between ages 0 and 3.

Ever heard of the “terrible twos”?

Children of this age have a very immature emotional intelligence. It is important to remember that they have not yet learned how to manage their emotions and express themselves appropriately.

You should NEVER label a child as naughty, but rather, the behaviour. It is not the child’s fault that they don’t know how to present their feelings.

We know that children also throw tantrums as a way to get what they want – they are looking for a particular type of response. However, there are many very effective ways to calm an angry or frustrated child, other than giving them what they want.

Toddlers around the age of 2 are only just beginning to string two or more words together and don’t yet know how to say things like, “I’m bored”, “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, or “I don’t want to leave the park!”

The only way that a toddler really knows how to express their emotions is through the infamous “toddler tantrum”!

Sometimes, the trigger for the tantrum might be a simple as they want some attention. Even if they already have your attention, they might want more! 

Behaviour management for toddlers is extremely important when considering the future growth, social communication skills and emotional development in a child.

The worst time to give a toddler any attention is when they are having a tantrum. 

Do NOT

  • Ask them whats wrong – they can’t tell you.
  • Tell them it will be ok – that is not actually addressing the issue.
  • Give them what they want during the tantrum (or after, for that matter).

Read on to find an experts advice on How to Deal With Toddler Tantrums!

 

How Do YOU React to a Toddler Tantrum?

 

Shouting at the child

All you are doing by shouting at a child is telling them that they are not allowed to feel or express their emotions.

You are allowing yourself to get wound up by a toddler, all because they want to stay at the park.

I don’t blame them, I would want to stay at the park too.

Or because there is too much going on around them at bedtime, so they feel over-stimulated.

That is in no way the child’s fault at all. I’m not saying it’s all your fault in any way, but the triggers are able to be reduced – or even avoided if you can recognise them.

 

Arguing with the child

This just winds the child up even more.

I love the way that Ninja Mommers compare arguing with a child to arguing with a “3 ft tall drunk leprechaun” Ha! Exactly!

Most of us have tried to argue back with a toddler at some point. Whether it was our own child or not!

Arguing with the child is just adding fuel to the flames. Toddlers are known for being stubborn little…angels!

They will win any “argument” with an adult.

So, just try not to get caught up in an argument with your toddler.

It will just end up with both of you getting even more worked up.

 

Crying near the child

Crying in front of – or near a child is hard to handle and hard to avoid for some parents.

If you really are getting so upset about the situation that you finding yourself getting emotional, you should remove yourself from the situation.

Obviously, only if it is safe to leave your child alone.

It has been suggested that babies and toddlers have a strange sixth sense where they can feel what their mother feels.

It is kind of like “sympathy pains”.

The last thing you want to do is have your toddler seeing you upset and distraught. It will only lead to more confusion and is not at all healthy for either of you.

If it all feels like it is getting too much, you should speak to a professional. Contact your local GP or doctor. There is always someone to help.

As well as moms in relationships, it is always worth mentioning that single moms can often feel lonely and get frustrated that they are the only one having to deal with the low-points of parenting. If you are one of these ladies, please know that there is always help available to you.

 

Walking away from the child

Sometimes, walking away from a child in the middle of them throwing a toddler tantrum can actually be a good thing.

It can give the child some time to calm down and to express themselves without trying to drag you in.

However, walking away from a child can also create high feelings of anxiety, loneliness and frustration.

It can make a child feel isolated and they might even run after you or scream louder and become more aggressively.

This is one you will have to judge for yourself, depending on your own child’s behaviour and personality.

 

Bribing during the tantrum

Have you ever said something like, “Stop screaming and you can have 5 more minutes”, “Stop crying and I’ll give you another biscuit” etc.?

In other words…have you ever bribed a child so they would stop being mental!

Do NOT let them frustrate you so much that you get pulled into this game. Once they have you wrapped around their little finger, that’s it.

One of the reasons that parents end up bribing their child or offering something in return for them calming down, is because the parent is stressed.

To ensure that YOU are a happy parent in the first place, make sure you are eating well and getting enough sleep!

 

via GIPHY

 

12 Ways You Can HANDLE a Toddler Tantrum!

 

1. Acknowledge their feelings

It is important that you don’t dismiss your child’s feelings. 

They are valid emotions.

Children so young just don’t yet know how to manage and express their emotions appropriately.

  1. Tell your child that you understand why they are upset
  2. Make it clear that they won’t get what they want right now
  3. Let them know that you are still there for them

For example,

“I know you want to get down from the table, but mummy needs to finish her dinner. Can you show me how to eat properly?”

If the child continues to be negative or starts screaming more etc., you should be more firm in your tone and words.

A simple, “We will both get down when mummy has finished. Can you show me your quiet voice?” will suffice.

Followed by you ignoring them (or trying some other tips below) until they have finished either eating or throwing their tantrum.

Of course, if they are just throwing their food or banging on the table, just move their chair away from the table while you continue eating.

Remember: Once the child has stopped their tantrum, praise them for stopping and then try to get them to do the task again (eating in this example) or move them away from what is bothering them.

 

2. “Naughty behaviour” is NOT a “Naughty child”

One thing that takes a lot of training, but is effective in helping parents to deal with their child’s behaviour problems, is changing their own mindset.

Understanding that your child is not a “naughty child”, but just that their “behaviour is naughty” can be a struggle at first.

After all, we can’t get stressed over something like a behaviour. Our automatic instincts tell us that it is the person who is acting this way.

Think for a moment, about an Autistic child.

Most children on the Autism spectrum find it hard – if not almost impossible to control their behaviours. Some children with Autism can get scared or freak out at the sound of loud noises.

When this happens, some children cover their ears, rock back and forth and hit themselves, or scream, or shout, “go away, go away, go away” or repeat the word “no”.

This is NOT the child’s fault, it is their behaviour.  It is a mental issue – part of their condition that is creating this behaviour.

Although comparing to Autism is a big leap in some cases, the point is the same. The child is still that loveable, sweet angel who you have raised and taught to behave well. They are just in a situation that they don’t know how to handle or cope with.

It is our job as parents and educators to help them learn these skills.

You could even offer them the opportunity to earn rewards for good behaviour! Check out this cool Reward Chart for toddlers!

FREE DOWNLOAD:

Download your FREE 'Weekly Reward Chart' HERE!

 

3. Choose your battles

Parents seem to jump on almost everything things a child does wrong.

Here are a few examples,

  • Insisting to wear odd socks
  • Insisting that they have the juice YOU are drinking
  • Pulling silly faces
  • Laughing ecstatically just for the sake of it
  • Chewing at their toes
  • Saying and then laughing at words like, “bum” or “poo”

Yes, when in a rush or trying to teach the child “manners”, some parents may get their feathers ruffled at the above things.

But.

Why?

You MUST remember that your toddler is exactly that – a TODDLER!

The definition of a toddler is:

“A young child who is just beginning to walk.”

Remind yourself of what that actually means.

Your child has only just learned to walk, and yet we still expect them to be able to comprehend manners, etiquette, social communication skills and fashion sense!

 

4. Don’t try to stop the tantrum

Let your toddler release their emotions and take their time with their tantrum.

Frustrating, I know.

But, it is much better than you giving in just to stop the headache!

If they seem to be calming down, you can try a few simple methods to calm them down, such as:

  • Stand in one spot and ignore them (it’s not as harsh as it sounds. They know you are still there, but you are just not allowing them to get attention for their tantrum).
  • Cuddle them close and tight
  • Try to calm them down verbally
  • Move them away from the trigger that is making them upset in the first place

Don’t let them get their own way. You do NOT want them thinking that all they need to do is throw up a fuss to get what they want.

 

5. Speak softly and stay calm

More often than not, your child will automatically match your volume. If you raise your voice to them, they are likely to try to “beat you” and will try to get louder than you.

By staying calm and softly spoken, you are:

  • Reassuring them that you are there for them if they need to vent
  • Not exasperating the situation
  • Allowing them to show their emotions (in time, you will be able to teach them more appropriate ways to do so)
  • Being a positive influence
  • Making them feel more comfortable (whether you believe it or not)
  • Placing some of your own “calm” on to them. Eventually, it can rub-off onto them and help them to calm down

Speak softly and stay calm, and you will likely find that your child begins to do the same.

It isn’t easy shouting at someone who is not shouting back!

 

6. Distract them from trigger points

There is (almost) always a reason for a toddler tantrum.

Whether it be a big or small reason to you, it is probably HUGE to them.

Figure out what it is that is making them so upset and you are already half way to stopping this tantrum from happening again.

Sometimes it can be obvious.

  • You didn’t give them the chocolate they wanted.
  • You took them away from the park after a full hour there!
  • They don’t want you to change their nappy – but of course, you must

However, sometimes it can be downright impossible to figure out what the problem is!

You go through everything in your own mind…

“You’re fed, changed, watered, had playtime, read a book, slept, warm enough. What on earth could it possibly be?!”

In that case, think about your surroundings. What is different right now?

  • Is it louder or quieter than usual?
  • Are they bored?
  • Are they over-stimulated?
  • Do they just need a cuddle?
  • Are they still tired?
  • Are they pointing at something they want?

You will find that if you are able to identify trigger points, you will be able to AVOID toddler temper tantrums before they even start!

how to avoid a toddler temper tantrum

 

7. Be consistent

Babies, children, teens, adults…well, pretty much everyone needs consistency in their lives.

Toddlers need it more than most though.

This is because they lack emotional intelligence and an understanding of communication skills.

A consistent approach to behaviour management is so important because it gives the child a feeling of “expectance”. They know what to expect. They know what a reaction will be for a certain type of behaviour.

And, they will also know they cannot change the way you react just by throwing a tantrum.

Consistency as a parent is all about sticking to what you say you will do.

If you say you will take away a toy if the child hits out or jumps off the sofa again, do it!

You need to create clear boundaries.

Clear rules.

Clear expectations.

Children NEED boundaries. They crave discipline. 

This book by Sarah Ockwell Smith is all about giving discipline in a gentle way.

However, they also like to practice pushing those boundaries to see how far they can go with it.

The more consistent YOU are, the more the child will realise that they can’t “beat” you.

 

8. Do NOT give in

This point goes hand-in-hand with consistency.

The second you give in to your child and give them what they want, or bribe them during a tantrum, that’s it!

They have won!

This can be disastrous in the long-run. Children with a lack of discipline tend to continue to push the barriers. In school. In college. At work. In social settings etc.

By giving in, you are also making your own life a hell of a lot harder. You are showing your child that regardless of what you say, you will never mean it and you will never follow through.

As the old saying goes, 

“Actions speak louder than words.”

 

9. Don’t judge yourself

I have seen too many parents get upset or angry with themselves when their child is a big tantrum thrower.

Please, do NOT blame yourself.

In all likelihood, you have done nothing wrong to cause this.

You MUST remember that tantrums are just a way for a child to express their emotions, because they simply do not know better.

This is not your fault at all.

It is an age-related skill and discipline that they have not yet matured into.

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10. Create a strategy for how to handle tantrums

Rather than stressing out “in the moment” while a toddler tantrum is happening, try to pre-think strategies for how you will handle certain scenarios.

How will you deal with the following scenarios? Have a think…

  • Won’t eat dinner – screaming and hitting the table
  • Throws themselves on the floor in a public place
  • Won’t allow you to dress them – flailing around
  • Hitting you, themselves or other children

If you have a plan in place, you can start working on it straight away – as soon as the negative behaviour starts.

If that strategy fails, do not blame yourself. Just try it again a few more times.

If it still does not work, try another strategy.

You WILL find ways that work for you and having that strategy in place removes most of the tension that you fill feel during the situation.

 

11. A simple cuddle

Sometimes, we just need a cuddle.

This is also true with many teens and adults.

Depending on your child and how they feel about human contact when throwing a tantrum, you may be able to use this tactic.

I have personally found that it works for my daughter in certain situations and not in others.

When it works:

If she does not want to go to nursery in the morning, but I have to go to work, there is no choice or argument in the matter. This is what needs to happen.

However, I understand that she is upset and I can also sympathise with her. 

In this instance, a cuddle is more than appropriate, because the whole issue stems from the fact that she does not want to leave me.

When she is calmer, I distract her with a toy or ask her to help me by holding my keys etc. and then put her in her stroller.

When it does NOT work:

Sometimes, this is the worst solution possible!

If she wants to stay at the park but we have to go, she is angry with me for taking her away from the fun.

This is therefore NOT a good time to offer a cuddle.

Think of another strategy that is more appropriate for the situation at hand!

 

12. Ignore other people

One of the things that takes YEARS for most parents to get used to – or to ignore, is other peoples ignorant judgements.

Most of us have, at some point, seen a toddler tantrum and thought something to ourselves about how extreme the child is acting.

And yet, not many of us actually blame the parents or think – or even say that we think they are bad parents.

That tells you something simple…

Those people who try to tell you to “sort your child’s behaviour out”, or to “stop your child crying” at a restaurant etc. are bullies.

They obviously have never been in your shoes, and if they are parents, then they should feel sympathy for you if anything – not judge you as if they are perfect themselves.

Just ignore the haters, hunni!

 

 

6 Ways to AVOID a Toddler Tantrum!

Click here for proven ideas on how to manage your toddlers behaviour (written by an educator of 10+years)

1. Identify triggers

There are many reasons why a toddler might be kicking up a fuss. The main reasons tend to be because they are overtired, hungry, have a wet nappy or are over-stimulated.

Other possible reasons could be boredom, too hot / cold, feelings of frustration, feeling ignored / wanting attention, scared and anxious. Amongst many, many more!

You should pinpoint the “typical” things that put your child in a situation where they are likely to throw a wobbly.

Once you have this list, you can begin to better cater to their needs.

If you really get to KNOW your child’s behaviour and mannerisms, you can identify ways in which you can remove or reduce these triggers.

For example, if you know that your child gets upset or angry when they are tired and you know that this happens at around 8pm at night, you should set a regular routine for bedtime which begins at around 7.30pm.

This can get them ready for bed so they are actually ready to go to sleep before they actually start thinking about the fact that they are tired.

 

2. Move away / distract them from triggers

Create an environment that promotes good and positive behaviour.

Here is a great post all about how to stop a toddler from grabbing everything in sight!

You know the TV remote?

The one you always leave on the living room table.

The one that your toddler always wants to grab, but can’t have.

Yep, that remote!

Well, have you ever had the screaming marathon that accompanies once you say “no” or snatch the remote out of the child’s hand?

Rather than just saying, “No!” to everything, try to just MOVE your child away from the object of desire (the remote in this case) before they can even realise that it’s there.

Turn their attention straight on to something else and see how quickly the distraction works.

Or, just put objects like that out of their sight in the first place.

Out of sight, out of mind!

 

3. Offer the child a choice

Have you ever felt like you are constantly fighting with a child that just WILL NOT OBEY?! 

It is very easy for adults to get caught in the “because I said so” trap. 

However, how would you feel if someone told you to do something – not at work, just in your normal, everyday life? But, you did not have a choice in the matter, you just had to do it.

You can always give your toddler a choice of where they want to go or what toys to play with.

As adults, we have matured into an understanding of responsibility and social communication, but toddlers are nowhere near that stage yet.

Imagine if someone just told you to put your books away. Full stop. Just do it.

Maybe, you don’t actually want to put the books away.

Maybe you want to keep them there so you can read them later.

What difference does it make to them anyway?

This is very much like a child’s mind. The child does not understand why they are being told to do something.

If you offer a choice, you will find that the child becomes much more receptive to you.

For example, rather than saying, “Put your books away now”, try saying, “Put books away, or put teddies away?” (exaggerate the word “or”)

If your child knows those two words (which most 2 year olds should), they are likely to choose which one to put away first.

If they choose to put the teddies away first, praise them.

THEN you can say, “Well done! Good job putting teddies away. Now show me how we put books away.” 

Once the child has seen the praise they can get from doing well, they are more likely to want it again and should (hopefully) put the books away with you only asking a few times maximum.

 

4. Offer a bribe – but not DURING a tantrum

As was made clear above, bribing during a tantrum is a HUGE “no-no”!

However, in an effort to actually avoid a tantrum you CAN offer a “type of bribe” before any tantrum occurs.

You might offer a reward and tell them they can have an ice-cream or go to the park if they do something well. Then if the child begins to misbehave, you can gently remind them about the “bribe” and reign them back in.

Here are some ideas for fun activities you could “bribe” your child with.

 

5. Set a “semi-strict” routine

As mentioned above, having routines can definitely reduce the number of tantrums a child has.

Children crave routine and discipline.

  • The child knows that after dinner, it is bath time
  • After bath time it is story time
  • After story time it is bed time

A routine creates a sense of stability and consistency in which there is not much “wriggle-room” for tantrums.

They won’t try to push the boundaries as much as a child who has no routine in place at all.

 

6. Use Basic Sign Language

One of the best things I ever did – as far as communication with my own child goes, was teaching her sign language.

There are many amazing resources out there for you to teach yourself, like these jam-packed books for British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL).

As my daughter was born partially deaf and I have been a teacher for so long, I have had the opportunity to learn it face-to-face and via apps and online courses.

I have also used Makaton (a form of baby sign language) in my teaching of children aged 1-11 and with children who have Special Educational Needs.

It is unbelievably effective!

Of course, at the beginning when my daughter was very young (I’m talking a few months old), I began to teach her signs for things like:

  • Food
  • Drink
  • Sleep
  • Finished
  • More
  • Please

These signs allowed us to knock down communication barriers that most parents would have with their child of the same age.

By 1 year old, my daughter was able to tell me if she wanted more dinner or drink.

She could tell me that she was finished with her food, a toy or a game – before I started pushing it on her, assuming she wanted to play with it. She could tell me she was tired – all via sign language!

No more guessing games, no unnecessary tantrums because she couldn’t communicate with me. 

 

 

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So, to Recap:

How to AVIOD a Toddler Tantrum in the First Place

1. Identify triggers

2. Move away / distract from triggers

3. Offer the child a choice

4. Set a “semi-strict” routine

5. Use Basic Sign Language

6. Offer a bribe – but not DURING a tantrum

 

How to HANDLE a Toddler Tantrum while it is happening

1. Acknowledge their feelings

2. “Naughty behaviour” is NOT a “Naughty child”

3. Choose your battles

4. Don’t try to stop the tantrum

5. Speak softly and stay calm

6. Distract them from trigger points

7. Be consistent

8. Do NOT give in

9. Don’t judge yourself

10. Create a strategy for how to handle tantrums

11. A simple cuddle

12. Ignore other people

 

Toddler Tantrum Toddler Tantrums