Toddler Tantrums

It will take some investigation on your part to prevent a tantrum from occurring or re-occurring. Start by asking yourself some questions such as: When do tantrums occur? Where do tantrums happen? Who is generally included? What happens before, after, and during a tantrum?

Acknowledge when your child is doing something good like sharing or listening to directions.

Although there is some debate on whether or not a child should be given choices, when appropriate, it can be a useful tool. Situations or things that may be harmful are non-negotiable. Further, do not ask children to do something when they really have no choice in the matter. Rather, tell them what they must do. So, for example, do not ask, “Would you like to take a bath now?” Say, “It’s bath time now.” Giving them control over little things is ok though (“Do you want to wear the white shirt or yellow shirt?”). Doing so will give your child a sense of control and is likely to eliminate power struggles later on.

Make sure to establish a daily routine so that your child can be prepared and know what to expect. Sticking to a routine is especially important for things like napping, bedtime, and dinnertime. Further, talk to your child about what you have planned for the day and what they can expect. Also, cue the child before you reach the end of an activity. Give them ample time to prepare for the transition.

Avoid boredom. If you have a long day planned with your toddler, make sure to pack your child’s favorite toys, snacks, etc. Since they are likely to get tired toward the end of the day, get things done earlier on.

If you feel a temper tantrum coming on, try to distract your child. If possible, change environments or redirect them to another activity.

Teach your child how to make a request without a temper tantrum and then follow through with the request. Say, “Try asking for the toy nicely, and I will get it for you.”

Receptive language develops before expressive language. Just think of when you took a foreign language class in high school—you probably understood a lot more than you could actually articulate. So, in the same way, your toddler understands a lot more than they’re able to express. Because of this, try using the following tips when communicating with them:

Echoing: When your child says a word, correctly repeat the word back to him or her.

Restate: Restate what your child says in a different way. For instance, if your child uses the word “milk” and points to the refrigerator, add the word into a complete sentence like, “You would like to drink some milk.”

Add-On’s: Use other descriptive words to add to the words your child uses. If your child says, “The dog,” then you should say, “The dog has black and white spots and long hair.”

Identifying/Labeling: Whenever your child is exposed to new things, name the object out loud repeatedly. 

Reading to your children: Research suggests that children who are read to have an easier time obtaining language acquisition skills like speaking, reading, writing. Have them become an integral part of the process by picking out the book, turning the pages, and asking them to tell you what the story was about.

There are also a number of intervention methods in dealing with a temper tantrum. Go to the next page for quick intervention tips.