Toddler Temper Tantrums- How To Prevent Them & 8 Ways To Stop Them
Use these simple tips to both prevent and stop toddler temper tantrums! Preventing toddler tantrums definitely comes with a bit of planning. However, once it’s underway there are a few tips and tricks you can use to stop toddler temper tantrums.
When it comes to kicking and screaming, toddler temper tantrums can be more intense than any bar brawl. It always amazes me how crazy the temper tantrums can get- and what causes them.
So, what’s a mama to do? Lots!
I have two little girls, a 3.5-year-old and a 1year old. And while I love them dearly, both of them are stubborn. With my youngest, her temper tantrums can last up to 90 minutes (the running total!) of ear-splitting screaming, kicking, and outright sobbing.
With my oldest, they tend to be shorter, but they get just as intense. Every so often I can use logic to calm her down but there was a phase where we both struggled.
And since my knee-jerk reaction is to scream back, there was a lot of learning on my end on how to stop toddler temper tantrums without raising my voice.
A quick reminder that I have no right to tell you how to parent. I am not a child expert or psychologist. I’m just an every day mama sharing some tips she’s learned that worked.
Toddler Temper Tantrums: Two-Part Method
The first step to curbing toddler tantrums is preventative. Know what sets off your kids and plan for it. This is the spot you have the most leeway, so use it!
The second is to stop the actual tantrum itself.
In an ideal world, you can out-logic your kid. In the practical world of parenting this explodes in your face.
Scroll down and you’ll find both practical parenting advice as well as a few desperate tricks I keep on hand for sheer insanity.
Preventing Toddler Temper Tantrums
When it comes to a toddler with a temper tantrum, avoiding the tantrum is the best course of action. It’s not always possible but it can sometimes be nipped before it starts.
Moreover, many preventative measures require a bit of planning or thought:
- How do you react in crap situations?
- Give your kids choice in small things
- Offer a deal
- Play it safe
How you react in bad situations is often how your kids react because they don’t know better. This took me forever to figure out.
I’m “an exploder’. Meaning, if I’m already frustrated and then something else goes wrong (I stub my toe, my schedule gets messed up etc) I explode.
I probably give a bit of a curse (or now-a-days go for frick, jiminy crickets and AHHHH) and make a loud noise.
Not exactly the best example.
If your toddler sees you doing this, they may mimic it. Once I realized this was my knee jerk reaction, I’ve tried to change it… and my oldest has followed suit.
If I’m having a shit day and she spills her glass, I don’t jump down her throat. Instead we shrug and say, “sometimes things spill”.
Changing MY attitude made a huge difference in changing hers. Since I’ve made the effort, I’ve heard her murmur things like “aww man” and “oh jimminy” and then we laugh- situation diffused.
It’s not easy to look at our own personal behaviors but our kids are versions of us so….
Give Your Kids Freedom To Choose
The small things like what they wear to the grocery store or playgroup don’t matter. At all. Kids want to feel like they have control too.
So, let them wear the damn cape. The sandals in the rain. And the skirt as a shirt. If that’s all it takes to avoid a meltdown, why fight them? Just like letting them play with the basics instead of always saying “no” gives them choice (check out these activities for 14-month-olds here).
It’s a classic “pick your battles” situation.
Likewise, give them choices!
Instead of forcing them to eat something, ask what they want (within reason). Or give two options and let them choose. But give them to freedom to have an opinion.
Trust me on this one, it saves a lot of sanity.
Offer A Deal
Okay, so we totally make a ton of deals in our house. Like, a lot.
If I want something done (like the living room cleaned), instead of yelling at my girls to clean it, while they sob about how hard it is and this cycle goes on for forty minutes, I make them a deal.
I ask them what they want to do and then say we can do it if we clean the living room.
I also learned to ASK instead of tell. Thunk about it, how would you feel if your partner just told you/expected you to do all these things all day every day. It would get a bit annoying.
Instead, I learned to rephrase with a lot of “hey Miss Z, can we get the living room cleaned up, so we have room to do puzzles”?
Play it Safe
Sometimes preventing toddler temper tantrums is about avoiding a situation entirely. With my youngest especially, she’s not allowed traditional treats yet.
Thus, if we’re going to a birthday party, I make healthy cookies for her and then distract her at the party. I don’t allow her to see the cake, instead we go play or walk and have a cookie.
Avoid as many situations as you can that are going to result in a direct outburst.
Stopping Toddler Temper Tantrums
Now, all those ideas said. We totally still have temper tantrums in the house (a lot), so don’t think we don’t! but I have learned to have fewer tantrums by paying attention and doing my absolute best to prevent them.
But what do you do when toddlers are in full-blown tantrum mode? Well, below are tricks! They may not be perfect, but they do help.
Especially since some toddler temper tantrums you just can’t avoid (like, my sister shoved me into a puddle and now I’m wet and want to shove her in a puddle –> happened last week).
Stopping Temper Tantrums- Give Hugs
This sounds cliché even to me, but the truth is, our kids are just very little, and they have very big emotions. They don’t know how to deal with them.
Sometimes the tantrum can be stopped by just recognizing that the situation sucks and offering some support.
Talk To Them
My oldest daughter is very logical. So much of the time, even mid-tantrum I ask her ‘what’s wrong”? And “how can we fix it”.
Again, by acknowledging that she’s upset (and that being angry is okay) she normally settled, and we can work it out.
This one works to distract little ones a bit and let the anger simmer out of them.
It gives them something to focus on and then you can move on from there. There are a zillion ways to make sensory bottles.
I keep some on hand that are not toys but only for when we need to calm down.
Bubbles- The Easiest Fix For Toddler Temper Tatrums
This one sounds insane- I know it. But you know those tantrums that they just don’t snap out of? Like, you could balance a hoola hoop on your head and your kid is still full-on screaming or hitting?
We went through a phase of those and it was horrible. I couldn’t even get her attention. I did, however, learn that no kid can resist laughing at bubbles. It’s like an instant distraction and mood booster.
Blowing a few bubbles have saved many lives in this house (actually, sometimes just dragging them outside for activities helps too)
This one only works with some kids but if my three-year-old is screaming and stomping, I do it too. She then finds this funny that I look silly, she stops for the briefest of seconds and we’re able to talk about why we’re upset.
Note: one of my mom friends said that this is cruel. That it’s like teasing them. This could be true but for my house personally, I don’t think it is. If Miss Z was so distressed, she wouldn’t laugh- she hates teasing so for us, this works.
And that’s it! Those are my biggest tips on both preventing and stopping toddler temper tantrums. I think the biggest point to make is that you can’t yell. Yelling at them for having an emotion just doesn’t work.
Yes, they push buttons. Yes, I totally have and do yell sometimes. But I make every effort not to because I know it just fuels the fire.
The calmer you are the calmer your kids will be. Let them get the emotion out and then talk about it.
Just like us, kids just want to be heard. They have trouble managing all the big emotions and sometimes get overwhelmed. They’re learning, just like we are too.