What is the best way to deal with toddler temper tantrums?

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Answered by: Jeff, An Expert in the Discipline and Behavior Category
As much as we want to believe our little angel is perfect, no parent can completely avoid the dreaded toddler temper tantrums that happen from time to time. The simple fact is every child does it, and every parent has to deal with it. Although there are no easy answers, there are a few tips and tricks available that can help you deal with this unavoidable situation.

That being said, the best approach is to try and minimize the potential for toddler temper tantrums in the first place. There are a few things you can do to mitigate the issue. Routines are of the utmost importance. Though this may take some work, routines can really help both you and the child know what to expect. Having a set naptime during the day and bedtime at night is key. When leaving the house, try and keep a mental checklist. Then verbally run through this checklist with the child as well. Doing this every time when leaving the house will help to make sure nothing is forgotten, like a child’s needed lovey, or a sippy cup of water in the hot summertime.

Since even adults can react with resentment when expectations are not met, it is even more vital that we make sure children have a clear idea of what to anticipate from any given day. Another way to mitigate toddler temper tantrums is to be very clear with your child what you will be doing as you go through each day. Trips to the store and running general errands may not turn out to be problems if the child knows what to expect. Also, timing is very important. Knowing your child’s moods well can help you to understand the limits of what can be done at any particular time. Sometimes it is simply best to shift running errands to another day if you can tell that your child has reached their limit.

Of course, some meltdowns cannot be avoided. If this happens, slowly take a deep breath. Realize that this is normal and all children do this. Remind yourself that yelling at the child will only make things worse. Stay calm, and let your voice reflect this. Tell the child you will count to five. This may help the child to snap out of it. If not, simply give the child a time-out. Have a set place where the child goes when they are in trouble. The usual rule of thumb is to have them sit in time-out for one minute of every year of their age. So a two-year-old child would have a two minute time-out. This may take slightly longer depending on the temperament of your child. Afterward, you can calmly discuss with them why what they did was unacceptable and what they need to do in the future to behave better.

Since every parent and child are different, nothing will work 100% of the time. The most important thing is to remember to take a deep breath and remain calm. Most children will simply work through their tantrum and normal out in time. After this takes place, it is vital to calmly and clearly discuss with the child what your expectations are for their behavior in the future. It is also important to realize it may take several repetitions of this for the child to fully understand the rules and limits you set for them.

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