Toddler Tantrums

Know anyone who can go from zero to cranky in a snap? Toddler!

Know what turns your little bundle of joy into a little devil? Tantrums!

Tantrums are a part of daily life with toddlers, the two Ts go hand-in-hand. As a parent, it is important for you to understand these angry outbursts by a child. Tantrums are all the result of the child’s limited ability to cope with frustration. The good news is, there are steps you can take to prevent some of these meltdowns and ways to deal more effectively when they do happen.


1. What Causes Tantrums?

Tantrums don't happen because toddlers are willful and disobedient! They simply occur because toddlers haven't learned to accept frustration. When they want to do something but can't, they are overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness and dissatisfaction. The tantrum is simply a release of those feelings. It might help to know that tantrums are common among toddlers. It's estimated that the majority of 2-year-olds have a tantrum at least once a week, which may last from 15 to 30 minutes.


2. Preventing Tantrums

There are certain steps you can take to help reduce tantrums. Here are some techniques that might help ward off your child's next tantrum:

  • Limit your toddler's access to toys and activities that are fascinating but too difficult for his age.
  • Watch for fatigue and make sure your child has adequate rest.
  • Look out for signs of over-stimulation and when they occur switch the child to a calmer activity.
  • Try to keep "no's" and "don'ts" to a minimum. Instead of "no's" offer distractions and alternatives: Show how to smell the flowers instead of picking them, for example.

3. Getting Through a Tantrum

Tantrums will end sooner if you simply let them run their course. While it's going on, your toddler needs a sense of your calm control to feel safe. So, try to remember that the tantrum serves a purpose. It's a release of rage caused by feelings of frustration, not hostility.


Sometimes a toddler needs to be left alone in a time out-but never out of sight- and just for a short while. At other times it helps to simply hold the upset child in a gentle and loving embrace. If a tantrum happens in public, it's a good idea to take your toddler to some quiet, relatively private spot until tempers cool.


4. Keep Your Cool, Mum

One of the most difficult challenges is to keep calm in the face of a small child’s uncontrolled fury. Yet an angry reaction from you is sure to make your child’s tantrum even worse.


As your toddler comes out of the tantrum, offer reassurance and praise for regaining control. Try to forget the upset and look for cheering things to say. The more stable and positive you can be during and after tantrums, the easier it will be for your child to control outbursts of temper as life goes on.

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