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10 Ways to Deal with Toddler Temper Tantrums


Here’s what we know about the dreaded toddler tantrums: Moms hate them, and it’s inevitable that your child will throw many between the ages of one and four. Luckily, Mom365 Community members have been there, done that, and made it out to share their perspective and advice.

Here they offer ten different ways to diffuse the worst of the toddler tantrum.

1. One Word: Ignore

a young boy having a tantrum

"Walk away, ignore, do not acknowledge. I never pay attention to the tantrums." –dentalgirl

2. First Symptom

a mom trying to her ease her son who is having a tantrum

"I ask my little one to use her words. If she refuses, I ignore her until she is all done." –teanie

3. Distract!

a mom carrying her upset son on her shoulder

"I give her a really tight hug and kisses and say mommy loves you. Sometimes she gets tickled but it distracts her tantrum." –EastTexasMommy

4. Head Them Off

a young girl eating a piece of fruit

"I find that tons of empathy, hugs, and love go a long way to keeping most tantrums short-lived. Also, anticipating my child's needs and fulfilling them in advance helps avoid tantrums altogether. For example, if we usually eat dinner at six and it is quarter after with no dinner in sight, I would give her a healthy snack to tide her over before a meltdown ensues." –roseymama

5. Demonstrate Proper Communication

a young girl looking upset

"I calmly tell my daughter, 'I can't understand you when you talk like that.' After the first week or so it started to only take one or two times before she would stop shrieking/screaming/yelling/hollering what she was trying to say to me. It doesn't always end the tantrum, but it brings it down to a more manageable level." 
–Jen, Mom365 Host

6. Hear Him Out, Then Find a Solution

a mom trying to console her upset son

"I sit in front of him, validate his feelings in a soothing voice, and then wait a moment for him to get the worst of his frustration out. At this point he usually pauses for a split second and looks at me, then I hold out my arms, he boo hoos his way into my arms, and we cuddle and nurse. 

If you aren't breastfeeding, I guess you could substitute cuddling and rocking. If the problem was hunger, the nursing would have taken care of the worst of it, but I still offer a snack afterwards. If the problem was being overtired, I get him to sleep. If he just needed some mommy time, I hang out with him for a few minutes. After we've solved the underlying problem, he's good to go, and has almost always forgotten all about whatever he was upset over." –Ashley

7. Be Soothing

a mom talking closely with her daughter

"One thing that seems to help is if I talk really softly to her. For example, let's say she's screaming and shaking the baby gate, basically a temper tantrum. I'll turn and say to her, gently and softly, 'Oh, Olive. Why are you screaming at Mama? Mama wouldn't scream at you. Be gentle. Be nice to Mama, please.' Talking softly and slowly gets her attention and gets her to calm down, at least for a little bit. She can't talk back to me, or really understand the words I'm saying, but she gets the point." –olive’s mama

8. Try a Time-out

a mom making her young daughter have a time out

"Time-outs are effective learning moments when administered correctly. Explain why in a calm voice (even if they will have difficulty hearing above their own noise), sit them on time-out (one minute per year of age), take a moment to sit with them and repeat the reason they are in time-out, ask for the acknowledgement (if they are able to apologize they need to), then give a big hug and word of encouragement and release them from time-out. My two-year-old daughter currently spends about four minutes (two time-outs) per day in time-out for the actual tantrum." –Bunnypeacock

9. Offer Choices

a mom talking to her upset son

We use choices, choices, choices. We just make sure that all of the choices we offer have a desirable result. For instance, in a stroller conflict, we'd get down to his eye level and in a calm voice (even if he is screaming) say, 'Max, do you want to buckle yourself in the stroller or do you want mommy/daddy to do it for you?' We usually give him a five count to answer, and if he continues throwing a tantrum, ask him calmly one more time. Nine times out of ten, he'll make a choice. Those times that he continues throwing a fit, we'll say, 'Okay, it looks like you are upset and don't want to make a choice right now. I am going to buckle you in.'–Megan

10. Be a Role Model

a mom trying to console her young daughter

"I do keep in mind that I am constantly modeling the behavior I expect from my daughter so when things don't go my way, I don't yell and scream, I choose my words wisely and then calmly and respectfully try to resolve the issue." –roseymama

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