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Avoiding and Dealing with Toddlers' Tantrums
Tantrums can be normal for toddlers - but that doesn't make them any easier for parents.
Here's some advice to help you avoid them and, for those cases where they can't be avoided, tips to help you cope.
- Make sure your toddler has regular rest, physical activity, and meal and snack times. If you are out, take healthy snacks and water with you. Tantrums often happen when children are hungry, anxious or overtired.
- Let your toddler know ahead of time what is going to happen and what you want him to do. "We're going to the store for milk and fruit. You can help me choose the bananas."
- Find helpful ways for your toddler to share strong feelings. This could be throwing a ball, running fast, or talking about your toddler's feelings ("mad," "sad").
- Try not to say “no” to every request.
- Give your toddler control over little things. This will help lower her frustration level.
Dealing with tantrums
- If the tantrum has started, don't try to stop it or talk to your toddler. He's out of control, cannot stop, and won't hear what you say.
- Stay calm. Take 30 seconds to think about what to do. Do not scream at or spank your toddler.
- Some children are better able to regain control if they're held firmly but lovingly. Others find this closeness even more upsetting and their tantrum may become worse.
- If you're in a public space during a tantrum, keep in mind that most people will understand. Many have been in the situation themselves.
- Make sure your toddler is somewhere safe, where her flailing, rolling, or pounding won't hurt your her or others, or damage property. If your toddler is in a shopping cart, make sure you hold on to him for safety.
- When the tantrum is over, cuddle and comfort your toddler. Praise her for regaining control.
- Recognize your toddler’s feelings: "I know you are upset about not being able to get that toy."
- Avoid giving in to whatever the tantrum may have been about. You do not want your toddler to learn that a tantrum will make you change your mind.
Last Updated: August 2, 2013