Diffusing the Drama of Toddler Tantrums


Toddler tantrums are a normal occurrence. Of course, some tantrums will be more severe than others, and some children resort to tantrums more often than others. Once you begin to understand why your child is having these tantrums, however, you may be able to ward off some of them, and you may also discover how to help your toddler control himself.

What Causes Toddler Tantrums?

The answer is very simple. They can't express themselves like older children and adults do, and they become very frustrated. So, they throw a fit! It's the only behavior they understand that seems to get some type of result and attention, even if it is negative. Your toddler wants to be able to do what his older siblings and you do. He becomes very frustrated when he isn't allowed to do this, or when he simply isn't capable of doing it.

How Should You Respond to Your Child?

Your first instinct may be to lose your temper and use force to make your toddler behave. Think for a minute about what you are teaching her. Are you showing her how to control her emotions? If you lose your cool, how can you expect her to keep control of hers? If you begin to scream, she'll only scream louder to be heard over you. Absolutely nothing is accomplished, and the pattern of behavior remains unbroken and unchanged. Keep the following points in mind when you need to respond to your child's tantrum.

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Speak in a slow, calm, but firm tone of voice.
  3. Kneel down so that you are on the same level as your toddler. You won't be as intimidating in this position, and you can make eye contact easier.
  4. Ignore whining and small toddler tantrums if possible. If you don't give your child attention, he may cease his tantrums.
  5. Be consistent. You and your partner need to be consistent in your responses and discipline methods.
  6. Be loving. Your toddler looks to you for love and security. You can show him both while still expecting good behavior.
  7. Don't give in to a tantrum. Sure, sometimes it might be easier to simply give in, but your toddler will learn very quickly that his tantrums will get the results he wants. Don't do it!
  8. Remove your child from an unsafe situation. If your child is in danger of hurting himself or someone else, you can pick him up and remove him from the situation.
  9. Use time outs. Sometimes it is easier for a child to calm down if he is given specific limits. Timeouts can give you and your child a necessary break from the emotional outbursts.

How Can You Prevent Toddler Tantrums from Occurring?

Obviously, you will not be able to ward off all toddler tantrums. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the number of toddler tantrums your child might have.

  1. Do away with temptations. If you know your child is going to want a big piece of cake when she sees you or a sibling eating it, then don't eat it in front of her unless you plan on giving her some, too. Use common sense.
  2. Stick to a schedule. Often, toddlers have tantrums because they are tired and hungry. Try to plan outings and other events around rest times and meals. Be sure you bring plenty of nutritious snacks with you.
  3. Use distractions when you can. If you see a potential problem arising, look for ways to distract your toddler.
  4. Use positive reinforcement. When you see your toddler modeling good behavior, praise him! If he stops throwing a tantrum quickly in response to you, compliment him on his behavior.

Remember, as your toddler matures and becomes more adept at vocalizing his wants and needs, his tantrums will fade. Until then, do your best to avoid tough situations and treat your toddler in a calm, firm, and loving manner.

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Diffusing the Drama of Toddler Tantrums