handling temper tantrums

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Wonder what to do when your toddler is having a tantrum? Learn tips for handling temper tantrums including what to do, and what not to do!

Things to Do When Handling a Temper Tantrum:

  • Address The Problem Before Your Toddler Completely Melts Down: The best time to try and calm your toddler is in the early stages of a tantrum. Your little one is more likely to listen to you at this point than later, when the fit has spiraled out of control.
  • Stay Calm: No matter how frustrating the situation becomes, try and stay calm. Getting upset or screaming at your child will simply add emotional fuel to the fire. Toddlers will not easily calm down when they see mom or dad upset too!
  • Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings: A tantrum is all about feelings and emotions. Often, young children don’t have the verbal ability, or language development, to fully express their feelings. This can make a child feel overwhelmed! To help the situation, you’ll need to show your child that you do understand the reasons behind the tantrum, even if you don’t appreciate the meltdown! Describe the situation that caused the tantrum in uncomplicated language. This helps your little one know that you understand what all the frustration is about. When a toddler feels understood, s/he is more likely to calm down. Ex:” You wanted to play with that toy. You are sad because you wanted to play with that toy. It wasn’t your turn to play with that toy, and so you couldn’t play with it yet. You are sad because you wanted to play with the toy and you couldn’t.”
  • Redirect Behavior: Tantrums often start because a toddler isn’t allowed do something. Help ease the disappointment and frustration by redirecting your little one to a behavior or activity that is acceptable. Many parents remember to tell their toddlers all the things they can’t do. Don’t forget to teach your toddler all the things he/she is allowed to do too!
  • Offer Lots of Positive Attention and Praise: While tantrums may begin out of frustration, sometimes they continue as a way for your toddler to get your attention. To prevent tantrums from becoming an attention-seeking activity, make sure to give your toddler lots of positive attention and praise in the absence of a meltdown. Play together, read together, do chores together, make crafts together. All these things will reinforce the idea that a meldown isn’t necessary to get mom or dad’s attention.

Things Not To Do When Handling a Temper Tantrum:

  • Do Not Reward a Tantrum: Toddlers are smart. If you give in to a toddler’s meltdown, s/he will learn to throw  tantrums to get what s/he wants. This is a key point to remember when handling temper tantrums.
  • Do Not Leave Your Toddler Alone if S/He is Likely to Get Hurt: Sometimes it helps to ignore your toddler’s unwanted behavior during a major meltdown, but don’t walk away from your child if s/he is in a situation that could leave your toddler hurt. In the middle of a fit, a toddler could easily pull something down from a table, or choke when crying if something is in his/her mouth. Safety must always come first. There is a difference between giving your toddler space by “ignoring” a tantrum and actually leaving your child alone, possibly in harms way.
  • Do Not Start a Long Lecture: When your child is so emotionally charged, it’s hard for him/her to process much of what you say in the moment. When you do speak to your child, make sure to speak simply and calmly. Repetition is good. If you discover that talking is only making the tantrum worse, wait and speak to your child when s/he has calmed down a bit.

Handling temper tantrums appropriately can make life easier for you and your toddler!

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