8 Top Tips To Use When Your Toddler is Having a Tantrum

To date I have blogged quite a bit about the reasons why toddlers tantrum and how to reduce the occurrence of tantrums, however what I haven’t done yet is to give you some simple tips for ways to cope when your toddler is in the midst of a full scale tantrum, something I’m commonly asked for.
attachment parenting, permissive parenting, toddler tantrum
These are my top tips for dealing with toddler tantrums ‘in the moment’:
  1. Firstly make sure your toddler is safe and cannot harm anyone else, if not try to find a safe space nearby. If your toddler is kicking, hitting or biting you remind him that it’s OK to be angry and feel the need to kick/hit/bite but it’s not OK to do it to you because it hurts, offer him a safe acceptable alternative instead.
  2. Next take a few seconds to regulate your own emotions. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that your toddler is ‘having a hard time’ not ‘giving you a hard time’ and as the adult it is your job to help your toddler to feel safe, respected and heard in order that they may learn the skill of emotional self-regulation when they are older. Do this for as long as you need to in order to respond calmly to your toddler.
  3. Try to ignore any onlookers, remember your long term parenting goals and take comfort in them knowing that you are doing your best for your toddler and focussing on their long term personality as well as the short term.
  4. Let your toddler know you are there for them if and when they want you. Just a simple “Mummy is here if you would like a hug” is enough.
  5. Name the emotions your toddler is experiencing and use the ‘say what you see’ approach to validate your toddler’s feelings “I can see you are very sad that I didn’t buy you the toy, you really wanted it didn’t you? It mad you really angry when I said no, I’m sorry”.
  6. Remind your toddler again that you are there for them “when you’re ready let me know and we can have a cuddle and I can help you to calm down.”
  7. When your toddler decides to come to you give him a big hug and tell him how much you love him. Remind him that it’s OK to be angry and sad.
  8.  When the tantrum is over remember it is just that – over. It’s time to continue with your day, leaving the tantrum and any feelings it evoked in you in the past.

These tips are taken from my book ‘ToddlerCalm: A Guide for Calmer Babies and Happier Parents’

The book is available in the UK HERE and worldwide HERE – both with free postage.


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About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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3 Responses to 8 Top Tips To Use When Your Toddler is Having a Tantrum

  1. theoress says:

    Great tips! Thank you!

  2. I’m right there with my two and three-quarter year old daughter. Primarily her meltdowns revolve around clothes; what she’s wearing; what she would like to be wearing; her sleeves are too long and she wants them rolled up; she wants to be wearing ballet shoes, not boots; she wants to wear knickers not a nappy but would like to poo in the knickers too but won’t compromise on this; this jumper is too cold (yup!); she wants to wear dresses to bed; “i don’t want to do it”; “I can do anything and everything all on my own” taken directly from charlie and lola…except she can’t do everything and anything all on her own so this is source for further frustration….and on and on it goes. How to remain chilled eh? Hard work. She hasn’t really thrown a public tantrum yet but I feel, just by writing that, that I have jinxed myself! Most of the tricky behaviour happens at home. I also have a five month old boy which has added another dynamic to the equation and my daughter’s behaviour has def become more full on since his arrival. Actually she tantrums fairly infrequently, but her ‘meltdowns’ and contrary behaviour can be equaly painful. Lucky she’s so cute and hilarious for the best part of the time. Otherwise, I’d be back for a refund! I see red sometimes and am reading Toddler Taming, which is pretty helpful thus far. This article is super helpful in reminding me that I need to listen, breathe, acknowledge how my daughter might be feeling. It quite often does not occur to me in the heat of her screaming to acknowledge that she is having a rough time. Thanks. I see red sometimes and am well aware of how counterproductive and damaging this is: http://sweetmotherofblog.com/i-see-red-toddler-tantrums/ i…f you fancy a giggle!

  3. Excellent tips, Sarah! Love them all. Definitely sharing!

    Thanks, Sarah.

    Be well,
    Nathan M

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