From Tantrums to Truce: Managing Temper Tantrums

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Babies can be a delight one minute and  little devils the next.  Your sweet little baby may be playing quietly on the floor with some blocks and the next minute he or she is screaming, crying and rolling around or kicking their feet. If you have not experienced this yet, this is a toddler temper tantrum chances are you will see at least one during your child’s early years. Toddler temper tantrums happen now and then but there are ways parents can deal with them and help their child through this stage of development.

What are Toddler Temper Tantrums?

A tantrum is a young child’s attempt to express their feelings of anger and frustration at the world around them. Infants and toddlers do not yet have the necessary language skills to vocalize their feelings and so they act out with a meltdown at a moment’s notice. Parents are often embarrassed and shocked when this happens in public, but every parent has experienced this and it is a normal part of childhood.

What Can Trigger a Meltdown

Young children experience frustration when a change occurs that disturbs the normal routine of things such as someone coming to visit or having to leave the playground suddenly. They get easily frustrated when they cannot get the puzzle piece to fit or their playmate to share a toy. They may also have a tantrum when their wishes are not met.  The cereal aisle at the grocery store is a prime place for that type of tantrum to occur.

Is it Just the Terrible Twos?

Toddler temper tantrums are most common between the ages of two and three but babies as young as 18 months can have them too. They often begin around this age and can last up until the child is four years old.

How to Lessen Toddler Temper Tantrums

Depending on your child’s age, your response in these situations may differ. If your baby is in that stage where you can distract him or her, this is sometimes the easiest way to end a tantrum quickly. If he or she grabs something off the shelf in the grocery store or takes a playmates toy, simply offer something else. Trading one thing for another is often effective because you are not necessarily taking something away.

Other factors often cause tantrums. A necessary tool for parents is to try and determine what is causing their child to be upset. Is the cause fatigue? frustration? anger? Parents often have many things to do in a day and we tend to forget that little ones don’t have the endurance that we do. It is best to bring several snacks and activities for them if you will be away from home for several hours. Being hungry, tired or bored is often a trigger for tantrums as well.

 To Minimize Toddler Temper Tantrums:

  • Plan for outings and bring food, toys, books or etc to keep your child engaged.
  • If you need to leave a friend’s house or the park suddenly, tell your child you will be leaving in five minutes and help them to start cleaning up.
  • Offer substitutions for things you don’t want them to have or play with
  • Help  them vocalize their feelings using words
  • Acknowledge their feelings without giving in to them.  It’s fine to say “I know you want that toy, but not today”
  • Use logical consequences.  If food or other objects are thrown, depending on the age of the child help her or have her clean up the mess.
  • Remember, all parents have had this experience whether they admit it or not.  Don’t feel bad about gently but firmly standing your ground.

Toddler temper tantrums are inevitable but a necessary part of growing up. Having patience and understanding that your child needs to express their feelings and over time will learn to do so in a more appropriate manner. As their language skills improve they will be better able to tell you when they are tired, hungry or want mommy or daddy’s attention.


Thomas Learning Centers provides NECPA accredited preschool and childcare at the most affordable rates in the Denver Metro Area.  Check us out at , click on the offers below, drop in for a visit to get to know more about us. We’d love to meet you!

Call  877-938-1442 for general info

Lakewood 303-237-0917 or Westminster 303-427-8831


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