Parenting Child Psychology and Behaviour

How to deal with toddler tantrums?

1 to 3 years

Created by Diya
Updated on Jun 03, 2020

How to deal with toddler tantrums
Reviewed by Expert panel

Toddlers are infamous for having tantrums!

What is a tantrum? - A tantrum is an outburst, which generally happens when a child is trying to get something he wants or needs, which generally triggers crying, screaming and sometimes even aggression.


There are mainly two ways to deal with tantrums:


First, being proactive and avoiding a tantrum situation altogether and the second one is how to deal with a tantrum when it actually occurs.

So first, let's look at some proactive strategies that could make toddler tantrums less likely:

  • Say "Yes" whenever you can - Always ask yourself "why not?" before saying "NO". Saying YES whenever you can, can actually avoid power struggles. For instance, if your child needs a few extra minutes to play at bath time, think why not? If they want to wear new pajamas instead of old ones, why not? Keep clothes out of sight if you do not want them to wear. If they want to drink water in glass instead of a bottle, why not? At most your child will soak their t-shirt which means mess for you to clean up but they will learn a new skill. So try and pick your battles wisely.
  • Give choices - Giving choices works like magic (almost always) because it's a win-win solution. You're only offering choices that are okay with, so you're happy. Your child gets to pick something by themselves, so she's happy and this situation does not result in a tantrum cry. It always works.
  • Suggest an alternative - If your toddler grabbed something which you want to take away immediately, do not snatch it, as they will learn to snatch. Instead, give them something else that your baby finds interesting and exchange the thing.
  • Give heads up - Always give your child a heads up, whenever you are going to change activities. For instance, don't just say "time to leave the park" when actually you want them to leave. Instead, give them first, second & final heads up 15, 10 & 5 mins in advance before you actually want to leave the park.

No matter how proactive you are as a Parent, sometimes tantrums happen. So here are some ideas for handling tantrums when they happen:

  • Do not use time out - Timeouts are like punishments and who likes punishments? Instead of using time outs, use time ins. Stay close to your child so she knows you’re there. But don’t try to reason with her or distract her. It’s too late to try these tactics once a tantrum has started. So let your child cry and let the tantrum pass, just like a storm!
  • Acknowledge your child's feelings without giving in - Make it clear that you understand what he’s after. “I see that you wanted to play in the park, but its time to go home now as soon it will be dark". Leave it at that, do not stretch the matter any further.
  • Teach later - When the tantrum has passed and your child is emotionally settled, at some later point - That's the time to teach them about what happened and appropriate behavior to deal with it in the future. The best way to teach life lessons to your children is perhaps through stories before nap time. You can teach them the values and morals without being preachy.
  • Remain calm yourself: The most difficult part of parenting is to remain calm ourselves. Whenever your child is screaming and having a tantrum, we are instantly put into fight or flight mode ourselves. We think that its an emergency that needs to be dealt with right then and there and we shout, yell, spank or timeout. Rather try this, sit down and get to your child's level, hug them and just remind her how precious she is and everything will be ok and let this feeling pass. Redirect to another activity and later at a more neutral time try to teach proper behavior. It works!
  • Have consist approach - Be consistent and calm in your approach. If you as a parent will have different approaches every time, your child will be confused, worsening the problem, so be consistent in your approach.
  • Lastly, do not reward a tantrum - It’s important to make sure you don’t accidentally reward tantrums. For example, if your child has a tantrum because you say no to buying her a lolly but then you buy her one, this is rewarding the tantrum. So beware of that! Shouting or pleading with your child when she has tantrums can also be a reward because it gives your child attention.

As a parent, dealing with tantrums can be very draining and stressful. So, accept that it takes time for change to happen. How has your experience been like? Do you know any other ways to deal with toddler tantrums? Comment below to help other parents! Happy Parenting! 

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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