How to Deal With Toddler Tantrums

Experts say that kids between the ages 18 months to 4 years are hardwired to misbehave so do not be too surprised if you suddenly have to deal child tantrums in public. Their sudden outbursts are simply a normal response to anger and frustration so nurture – or, parents – does not always have to take the blame.

The Basics of Toddler Tantrums

A kid’s outburst can come in many forms and sizes and would often involve explosions as they try to deal with their anger and frustration. Children can be seen crying, kicking, flailing their arms, running away or with an arched back and stiff limbs. At its “worst” form, kids can be observed to hold their breath, vomit or even break things or turn towards aggressive behavior.

But, what causes a child to start throwing tantrums?

Nature and temperament can hold a big influence as to how a child reacts during emotional situations. Some children could throw tantrums several times a day but others can remain calm and less “explosive” than others.

Other reasons why small children can display this unwanted behavior is because of stress, tiredness, hunger or even overstimulation. Uncontrollable situations such as when the kid could not get what he or she wants could often result to tantrums, as many parents may observe.

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How to Deal With Tantrums As They Happen

You may have a sweet kid or you may be a good parent for most of the time but these meltdowns are often unavoidable especially when kids are still in their toddler and preschool years. It definitely does not mean a reflection of bad parenting – they are just simply trying to vent out the anger and frustration that they are having a hard time dealing with.

So, when the unavoidable happens, what does a parent do?

Ignore them. Bad as it may sound but during these meltdowns, your kid is actually out of his or her mind so trying to reason them out, even in the calmest and slowest manner would prove useless. During these instances, the frontal cortex which is responsible for making judgment and decisions are overridden by emotions. Anything you do can probably make things worse so it would be best to just wait out for them to calm down before you start talking to them.

Find some distraction. When your kids have their meltdown in public, trying to ignore them can prove to be very difficult. Parents may tell themselves that they would not care what other people think as they stare at your misbehaving child, but they actually do. Toddlers are often very easy to distract and giving them something else to think about – such as telling them about that pretty thing you just saw, or anything at all, will let them forget about throwing tantrums for a while.

Get them out of the scene. Toddler tantrums in public are one of a parents’ biggest nightmare. If your child suddenly has a meltdown in the middle of grocery shopping or in a toy store, pick them up and leave the place. Not only does it show who is in control but a change in venue can change their behavior and they should snap out of it.

How to Prevent a Kid Tantrum in the Future

Determine what causes the kid tantrum. Children this young have very limited vocabulary and will thus have a hard time expressing themselves when it comes to telling you what angers and frustrates them. Among the best solutions a parent can do is teach the child sign language such as those for basic needs like “milk”, “food”, “tired” or “more”. Otherwise, try to speak as calmly as possible and let them show you what they want so you could avoid any frustrations in the future.

Avoid triggers

Once you have found out exactly what it is that leads to their toddler tantrum, it will be easier to avoid the things and places that will result to the misbehavior.  If they usually have meltdowns when they are hungry or tired, make sure to plan out your schedule ahead especially when you have errands to run to. Make sure your child has gotten his or her nap ahead of time or that you carry snacks or take a break and rest in between.

Tell them what they need to expect

In dealing with toddler temper tantrums, it is best to let them know what they is to happen in the next few minutes or hours. Toddlers thrive on routines so a quick change in the environment can throw their emotions off. To make sure they do not become overwhelmed, tell them what they can do and what is to happen soon. You can tell them, for example, that they are allowed one more turn at the slide before you go home or one more show before they go to sleep.

Offer incentives for good behavior

It may sound like bribery but this can be extremely helpful and effective for parents who are also equally frustrated in finding ways on how to deal with tantrums. You can offer incentives such as one more turn at the slide or one more book to read or one more show to watch – if they are able to maintain their good behavior all throughout.

Be the model

Kids start screaming when they are overwhelmed and have no idea what to do or how to deal with the intense emotion that they are experiencing. As parents, you can try to start teaching your child to express themselves and teaching them what to say during those moments will help prevent meltdowns in the future. Try to request specific things from them and as they try to emulate your own behavior, it will become easier to determine what it is that really bothers them during those angry and frustrating moments.


Dealing with toddler temper tantrums are among the most difficult task a parent is ever given with. But just because toddler go crazy during meltdowns does not mean you should too. Knowing what causes these toddler tantrums will make it easier to find a way to avoid it and will thus become less frustrating for the child and the parent.