Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 easy ways to avoid Toddler Tantrums

Do you have tantrums in your house?

Sometimes we do. My baby is now a toddler. She's beautiful, but she still tests boundaries sometimes and disagreements can turn into tantrums.

I know I can't avoid them all, and I don't think it would fair to try to. After all, it's my job to parent and that includes teaching her right and wrong & protecting her from harm. Even if it means risking a fight or tantrum. But it's never fun to argue with your child, so if I can find a way around it while still maintaining the role of the parent, I will.

Here are 5 things I do to shorten or prevent tantrums in my house:

1. Don't take part: Tantrums with Sophie are very short lived if the other person isn't actively fighting with her. So if things are beginning to get out of control, I keep my tone of voice light and just say "Mummy doesn't fight, Mummy just (insert activity here - reads the book, packs the bag, etc). And I go ahead and do it, get really invloved in it, and she tends to calm down, wander over and check it out. We end up doing the task together and everyone's calm again.

2. Stay firm, but not aggressive: Let's say I need Sophie to pack her blocks away and she really doesn't want to - she'll usually run away with a bit of a yell. If so, I now go over to her, take her hand and explain "It's time for blocks away, let's do it together". I lead her to the blocks, get down to her level and we start to put them away ("Can you put a red one in? Which one is red? Very good"). It becomes a bit of a game and turns into a great opportunity for a bit of praise and a cuddle afterwards.

3. Use a statement, not a question: This is great when the task is a necessary one. For example, at bath time, I try not to say "Do you want to have a bath?". Regardless of her answer, she has to have a bath anyway, so it's not fair for me to imply that she gets to choose. Instead I try to say "It's bath time. Let's run the bath together".

4. Give plenty of notice: If it's time to go in 5 minutes, I go to Sophie and tell her "five minutes till we hop in the car", "one minute till it's time to go" so she is aware that soon we'll be doing something else. Much easier than surprising her with something she wasn't expecting and isn't ready for. I do sound like a speaking clock, but I notice it has cut out a lot of disagreements.

5. Be careful with meals and sleep times: The most likely time for Soph to be a bit crabby is when she's hungry or when she's tired. If we are going to be out and about at meal or snack times, I pack her food and give it to her right on time. I don't want to spend 10 mins looking around for something to buy her and give her to eat, it's a long 10 minutes with a hungry, cranky toddler. Plus then I know I won't be just giving her the first thing I come across, it will be a proper snack or meal. If I need to schedule going out around her nap time, I will. If it means missing out on something social sometimes or juggling our schedule, it's worth it. It would have been a bad trip anyway if I took a tired girl out with me.

So those are the 5 that work best for us. I'd love to know more ideas! I have a feeling I'll need new ones as Sophie gets older :)

What do you do to reduce tantrums in your house?


  1. With my son nothing helped. He'd have one tantrum a day exactly one hour long. Once it was over and done with, that was it for the day.

    My daughter is currently having tantrums in the middle of the night, when she wakes up because she wants to go to the toilet, but she doesn't want to get out of bed and she doesn't want to wet her training pants either. Now is there a third alternative that she might find acceptable? Because tantrums at 3 am are not fun.

    To sum it up, avoiding tantrums is not happening at our place.

  2. I find giving my 2 year old son choices actually does help minimise upsets in our house. For example when it's time to have a bath I give him choices that both presuppose that he's happy to have a bath - something like "would you like to take your own clothes off or would you like Mama to help you?" or "would you like all your toys in the bath, or just the coloured cups?". This way he still feels like he's part of the decision making process in areas that are important to him and not so much to me.

    I do like hearing how other parents handle their day to day child involved activities - helps me get through the day sometimes.
    Thankyou for sharing your tips. :)

  3. i think you have nailed all the golden rules of avoiding tantrums! unfortunately they still happen sometimes...but with coping mechanisms we can get through them easier and in tact!

  4. Nice list! My 2.5 year old like a tanty. Usually she just flops on the floor - so there not to hard to deal with. It's all about tiredness at our place. Thansk for the good advice :)

  5. my nearly 3 year old can throw a massive tanty when he wants to. These tips are great and we do similar things. But for tantrums that just do not respond to anything we put him in his room until he calms down - gives me a moment to cool down too.

  6. Great list. My 3 year old daughter is a tantrum lover. At the moment she is throwing them over everything and nothing.
    At least these types of things work on my 2 year old, otherwise I would have two screaming, stamping girls...

  7. These are great tips! I was so glad to read Point #1. My boys are out of tantrum stage now, thank goodness, but my youngest really gave me some challenges.

    I wrote a post about a particularly challenging day, I hope you don't mind my linking here, but I thought it was relevant to share.

    Oh, and thanks for stopping by today and commenting!

  8. Thanks for your comments everyone! It helps to know that my daughter isn't the only one that throws the odd tantrum. For those of you who have experienced / are experiencing really bad tantrums in your house, I wish I had some more answers, it just goes to show that while you can be prepared, sometimes there's no easy fix.. Doesn't stop us from loving them though :)

    Shelley, thanks for your link, what a day! In my book, that's a bubble bath, wine and chocolate day for Mum!

  9. And thanks for the extra tips on how you handle tantrums - they're going in my ideas book for when I'll need them!

  10. Great list, top advice. These are all strategies I have used with my children, and with the teenagers I teach - and they are effective for all!

  11. Ah tantrums. I just try to not let them get to me and stay firm. I don't always succeed.

    One day they will pass, please let it be soon.

  12. Lots of excellent reading here, thank you! I had been seeking on yahoo when I identified your post, I’m going to add your feed to Google Reader, I look forward to much more from you.

  13. We're dealing with the same thing right now! I just wrote a blog post about what's helping us right now. Hope you can get something from it. Good luck!



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