10 Tips to help reduce toddler tantrums

Check out these tips on how to help reduce your little one’s tantrums which often occur between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old, with meltdowns of screaming, crying, kicking, biting and hitting as they try to express their emotions.
Check out our 10 tips to help reduce toddler tantrums and make life a little easier at your place.

Toddler tantrums

Tantrums usually occur between the ages of 18 months and 3 years.

Meltdowns of screaming, crying, kicking, toddlers biting and hitting are very common in this age group and can be associated with the developmental changes your toddler is experiencing and the difficulty they feel trying to express their emotions.

Tantrums are their way of venting the frustrations they continually encounter.

As a parent you can help reduce the likelihood of tantrums happening in the future by responding effectively when they do occur and helping to minimise your little one’s frustration.
Give some of these tantrum tips a go next time your toddler is in the throws of a meltdown. Ways to help them to calm down when they get mad.

10 Tips to help reduce toddler tantrums


1. When do the tantrums happen?

Monitor times when your toddler is likely to have a tantrum and take measures to prevent similar meltdowns happening in future.

For example, if preventing your child from grabbing at certain objects keeps triggering meltdowns, keep things out of sight or reach.

Or, if your child is irritable and tantrum-prone when they are hungry on their way home from kindy or at the supermarket, take a snack with you.

2. Giving toddlers independence

Toddlers want to do things for themselves, even if it’s not always possible or practical!

Start by giving them some independence or control over small things by offering simple choices.

For example, "Do you want water or milk?" or "Do you want to wear the red t-shirt or the blue one?"

Limit the range of choices to 2 or 3 things at a time to prevent overloading and confusing your little one.

Try not to use words that indicate choice, but where there is actually no choice at all. For instance "How about a bath?" or "Shall we switch the TV off?"

Involve your child in tasks which they feel they’re helping with and set them up for success.

3. How should you react when your toddler has a tantrum?

As a parent you need to stay calm when a tantrum occurs. Reassure your child with your presence, but give them minimum attention so as not to reinforce their behaviour.

You will need willpower, but let the tantrum run its course whilst calmly carrying on with your activities.

Avoid shouting and leave the room if you feel you're starting to lose your temper. Don't reason with your child at this point, they won't be in a position to listen.

Every time you give in for the sake of peace and quiet, you reinforce tantrums as being acceptable behaviour.

4. Offering your toddler rewards

Reward positive behaviour with praise and encouragement. Focus on the good things that they do.

This will make your child feel good and want to behave in a positive manner more often.

5. Giving your toddler warnings

Minimise frustration associated with disappointment by giving warnings about what will happen next.

For example try saying "One more minute, then we need to leave the playground" or "This is the last story tonight, then it's time to sleep".

If your limitations spark a tantrum, don't give in.

Stick by whatever you said otherwise you give the message that tantrums are an effective way for your child to gain control in future.

6. Involving your toddler

Involve your child as much as possible during potential meltdown moments.

For example at the supermarket give them their own shopping list (perhaps with pictures) and get them to help you choose the products and cross them off the list or ask them to put a few things in a bag at the checkout.

It may take a bit longer, but they are less likely to get bored and attempt to get your attention through explosions.

7. Distracting your toddler

If you see frustration kicking in, use distraction. Take advantage of your child's short attention span and divert their attention.

Offer an alternative object from the one they want, introduce a new activity or simply change the scene by taking your child outside/inside or move into a different room.

You can also try shifting their visual attention by perhaps pointing to a plane in the sky, laughing at something around you etc.

8. Show empathy

Show empathy for your child's frustration or upset by putting their feelings into words.

This will help them to verbalise feelings rather than act them out as they get older.

For example "You're frustrated because you want to put the puzzle together but you can't quite work it out."

9. Ensure your toddler's safety

Make sure your child is safe and can't hurt themselves or other people or damage things when a tantrum does occur.

Stay near to your child when they are having a tantrum as the emotions they are feeling can sometimes be quite frightening for them.

10. Time to calm down

For older toddlers you can try to encourage them to calm down.

Take them to a boring place with no distractions or toys nearby and gently explain that they need to 'calm down' and that you will be back shortly to talk to them about what just happened.

When the tantrum has subsided, cuddle your child, praise them for calming down and move on with the rest of the day.

More kids behaviour articles to enjoy: Image source:Cellcode

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