Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

Image of angry child

Being a child is sometimes tough. Nobody understands you often, you don’t know how to manage your communication better and, as a result, you have to throw a tantrum. On the other hand, being a parent is also tough, because you can’t always understand the needs of your child and what causes them to throw a tantrum (but they are often for no reason).

So, if your child is behaving unapologetically in the public, or is simply going over your head at home, you should do your best to understand what is happening, and learn how to prevent such outbursts.

What are Toddler Tantrums?

Firstly, in order to know how to deal with toddler tantrums, you need to understand what they are. Toddler tantrums, or temper tantrums, include unpleasant and disruptive behavior or emotional outbursts. Simply said, toddler tantrum is acting out and they always naturally occur during early childhood.

Why Do Kids Have Tantrums?

Yes, we said that tantrums are natural, but what actually causes them. It may seem to you that the tantrum occurred out of the blue, but children do have their own reasons for acting out. That acting out can range from crying and whining, to screaming loudly, kicking, hitting and even breath holding. What is more, there are sometimes no rules on when the tantrum is going to occur, but you can predict it since your child is probably trying to be independent and simply get what they want.

However, since those independent decisions and desires of your child are usually nonsense or even dangerous, you, of course, will refuse to provide that something for them, and the end result is frustration on your child’s side. And of course, since toddlers are not able to successfully control their emotions, they act out and throw a tantrum (usually in public, unfortunately). This is their way to persuade you to give them what you want.

So, in order to avoid your child controlling you with their emotional outbursts, you should learn how to prevent such events and how to actually deal with them. So, let’s start.

Image of Toddlers Tantrum

Prevention of Toddler Tantrums

Before even having to deal with tantrums, you should learn a few tricks that can help you prevent such disasters.

First, you should give a lot of positive attention to your child. Catch them when they are doing something good and reward or praise them for such good deeds and positive behavior.

Try to prevent tantrums from happening in the first place, whenever possible. Here are some ideas that may help:

  • You want to give them as much positive attention as possible. As soon as your child shows positive behavior or does something good, make sure to praise or reward them.
  • Try and give your toddler a bit of control over small things. Offer them to choose between an apple or orange juice, or whether they want to brush their teeth before or after the bath. Small independent decisions like that will make them feel on their own, which can prevent some tantrums.
  • Keep the objects you don’t want them to act out about out of sight and out of reach. This will make all the struggles less likely to occur.
  • Keep them distracted and take advantage of their short attention span. This can be easily done by offering something else in place of the thing they want but can’t have. Starting new activities to replace frustrations can also save you some trouble.

Useful Tactics

Prevention tactics are great, but they might not work well every time. That is why it is useful to know how to deal with toddler tantrums.

Calming down won’t work

Since toddler tantrums are a tool that your children use to get what they want, your best defense is to ignore them completely, unless they are physically endangering themselves or others. The lack of your attention towards them will put an end on that undesirable behavior because they will figure out that they are simply wasting their energy and they are not getting what they want. However, if your child starts kicking, hitting, biting or throwing things, you should stop them and remove them from the situation. Hurting others is not a good thing and you should let them know what is acceptable and what is no. Order some time-outs in situations like this, if necessary.

Adjust your tone

The louder the tantrum gets, the softer your voice should get. If you keep shouting at each other, your child will end up matching your volume, because they want to win and get what they want. Try to stay calm, speak softly and keep reminding them that they might be feeling frustrated or sad and offer them a choice. If you’re in public try and ask them if they want to sit on a bench or in a car until they settle down. Such choices will give them some attention and independence, which can help put out the fire in them.

Give them some space

Sometimes it’s all about getting their anger out. If that’s the case, just let them vent for a while. They are little and still don’t know how to control their emotions, and this might be their way of coming to senses and relieving some bad energy. They need to learn how to vent in a nondestructive way and express their feelings. Plus, you can match giving space with a little bit of ignoring and they will settle down as soon as they have flushed that anger away.

Hugs solve things

We are not talking about those cuddly hugs; rather, give them a big firm hug of support and love. This may seem like the last option when it comes to dealing with toddler tantrums, but it will work. Grab them, hug them and don’t say a word while you’re doing it, because that will give them the chance to continue fighting you. A big firm hug will make them feel safe and secure and it will let them know you care about them, even though you don’t agree with them at the moment.

Offer food and a nap

Just remember how many times you wanted to throw a tantrum because you felt cranky due to lack of food and sleep. This might just be the case with your toddler because food and sleep are everyone’s favorite. If you happen to notice a tantrum occurrence at the same time every day, some food and a short nap will really help. Offer them a snack or reschedule a lunch a bit and see what happens. You can also, try and let them watch some TV which will probably result in a quick nap.

Bribe them a little

If you’re in the street or you have to sit through a long meal in a restaurant and you see a tantrum coming your way, feel free to think of a small bribe. You might actually be expecting too much from your child for sitting in a fussy restaurant for a long time, so think about the incentive. So, before you even get to that restaurant, talk to them and let them know that if they behave, sit tight and eat all of their food, that they might get ice cream on the way home or that you will watch that cartoon they really like when you get there. And if they happen to start losing it, remind them about that “treat”.  

Image of child crying on the street

When to Worry

Tantrums can easily be prevented or nipped in the bud with these techniques, but there are times when you simply have to stop and ask yourself if you need some help. There are some signs that mean you should visit a pediatrician for some help. Here are some of the signs that things might be getting out of hand:

  • Aggressive toddler tantrums: if your child is showing aggression towards you or others, or they are tring to destroy a toy or other objects, it might mean that they have ADHD or some other disruptive disorder. More specifically, if more than half of the tantrums include aggression, you might want to consider an evaluation.
  • Self-injurious tantrums: if your child is trying to injure themselves during a tantrum, it might mean that they have depression and you should visit the doctor. The most common red flags are scratching, head banging and biting, so keep an eye on your little one.
  • Frequent and prolonged tantrums: try and keep track of the outbursts at home, because they might be more frequent at home than in daycare. If they have more than a few a day, every day, then the problem might be clinical. Also, if the tantrum lasts more than 20 minutes on average, you should visit a professional.


Toddler tantrums can be frustrating for both of you, and they often are unpleasant. However, you should understand why do kids have tantrums and how to deal with them. But, if things are getting out of hand a bit, don’t be shy to ask a professional for help, you will only put yourself and your little one at ease.

Author: Catherine Evans
Author: Catherine Evans

Catherine is a writer from Canada who simply loves toys, collectibles and superhero figurines. Writing is her passion, but she also loves reading, enjoying her “me time” and finding new ways to improve her work and ways to entertain the readers.

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