How to Stop Toddler Temper Tantrums

Teaching children to express their anger in appropriate ways makes life easier for everyone involved including the child.  Life can be frustrating for everyone at different times, especially for a toddler.  They do not have the skills to express their anger so they revert to throwing a tantrum until their parents give them the tools to show their frustration in appropriate ways.

It’s okay to be angry.

When things do not go the way we want we naturally feel frustrated and angry.  For a child, their anger is sometimes way out of proportion to whatever is frustrating them.  The world is so new to a toddler, it can be overwhelming and easily set off a tantrum. 

 Let your child know that anger is a natural emotion that everyone feels at some point.  Do not punish them or make them feel ashamed for feeling angry or frustrated.  Express to your child that you are willing to help them deal with their anger and try to solve whatever is causing them to be frustrated, but you cannot do so when they are screaming and crying. When they can calmly explain what is wrong, do whatever you can to help.

 Ignoring the child every time they are angry will only lead to bigger and louder tantrums.  Show them the manner in which you want them to express their anger and don’t acknowledge the tantrum.  When the child sees the tantrum is not getting your attention, they will try what you showed them.  Eventually, they will see that the only way to get your attention and solve the problem is to behave in the way you taught them.  It may take time and loads of patience, but remain firm. 

 Give an alternative to tantrums.

 Kicking, screaming and throwing themselves to the floor are not only a bid for attention it is also a way to release the anger and frustration.  Giving your child other more favorable ways to physically release their emotions is another way to prevent a tantrum.  Some may seem counter productive but giving them a way to physically release the pent up frustration in a controlled manner will be more peaceful for you.

 If your child is prone to hitting themselves or others when in a tantrum, tell them it is never okay to abuse anyone, including themselves.  Then give them the option of hitting a pillow as a way to take their frustrations out.  Some parents may not agree with allowing this and it’s your decision.  If your child frequently hits others, this can be a temporary fix until you can look deeper into your child’s reasons for being so physical.

 Show your child the art of “angry drawing”.  Let them draw whatever is upsetting them or simply let them scribble ferociously, either way it refocuses their mind away from the tantrum.  Make up an “anger dance”, a silly little dance you or you child does whenever the tension starts to build.  It’s hard to be angry when dancing and laughing.  When you see your child working up to tantrum level, it may diffuse the situation to say something like, “I see you’re upset, but you had better not start laughing. I’m warning you! You had better not laugh!”.  This may not work on every child or every situation, but sometimes challenging them in this way can give them the giggles.

 Learn to recognize the signs.

 Figuring out what causes your toddler to have tantrums can be useful in preventing them.  If your child has a meltdown when she’s hungry or overtired, do your best to make sure he or she doesn’t get the chance to reach the critical mass point.  Setting a daily routine and sticking to it can be very beneficial in preventing tantrums.

 Pay attention to the times of day when your child gets hungry, tired, and cranky.  Work your schedule to accommodate these times.  Serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks before your toddler gets to the point of being overly hungry. 

 When you know your child will be getting tired around noon, do not wait until noon to prepare him or her for their nap. A half hour before start the helping your child winds down.  Turn down the cartoons, dim the lights, maybe break out their favorite book so you two can curl up and read it.  All these things will help their mind to wind down so they can fall asleep before they become over tired and try to fight it.  You know your child better than anyone, so predicting what will set them off and putting a routine in place to avoid it will make your life and your child’s life more peaceful.

 Adjust these tips to your child.

 Every child is different and not all will respond in the same way.  No one knows your child better than you do, take these basic tips and tweak them to fit your child.  Some children can communicate with words better than others depending on their age and development.  Even if your toddler cannot communicate with words very well yet keep showing them how to express anger appropriately and ignore the hysterics. Even if they cannot use language to communicate very well at this point they will still learn that help will not come until they are calmer.  The sooner you begin instilling this in your child the less work there will be later.

 No matter how frustrated you get by your child’s tantrums you must remain the adult.  Raising your voice and yelling at your child in the middle of their tantrum will only make the situation worse.  This will only push your child farther into hysterics as the tension and noise level build.  If you respond by screaming and losing your cool, not only is your child getting attention for their tantrum, they are learning that this is the way to act.  You cannot teach your child control if you don’t exhibit it yourself. 

 Remind yourself that this is a phase the child is going through.  They are learning about their emotions and how to deal with them.  It can be overwhelming to you and the child but if you can keep a cool head your child will learn the right way to handle their emotions.  Teaching them about their different emotions and giving them the tools to deal with them is a lesson they will carry with them for life.