How should I handle toddler tantrums? Behavior & Discipline

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boy crying while riding his scooter.
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Tantrums may be a normal part of toddler life, but that doesn't make them any easier to handle! Lucky for you, these moms and an expert have been in your shoes and have shared successful strategies for tackling tantrums.

Don't Lecture

"If your child is [throwing a tantrum], don't attempt to talk to her and explain to her why her behavior is inappropriate. Your child is not ready for this kind of talk until at least age 6. Try to soothe her if she is distressed by something that happened to her or by being tired. Hold her on your lap or rub her back. Walk away if the tantrum is the begging for a toy or something she can't have." -- Elena Mikalsen, PhD, Mikalsen Psychological Services, San Antonio, TX

Never Reward Bad Behavior

"Giving your child a toy or candy to end a tantrum is like giving a dog a treat for crapping on your rug."

Don't Let It Get to You

"Try your best not to give in. Your child throwing a tantrum at that age does not at all reflect how you are as a parent. All toddlers do it, and I wouldn't worry."

Try Not to Give In

"If she is acting up because she wants something, don't give it to her. She will only learn that she can cry or throw a tantrum to get her way. Also, try to reward good behavior! If she does something sweet, tell her!"

Let It Run Its Course

"I make sure my child is in a safe place, away from a wall or any object that could hurt her, and I let her throw her tantrum. I tell her that I love her and that when she's done crying she can come back and talk to me."

Teach Calming Techniques

"We focused on teaching our children how to manage strong feelings and always validated however they were feeling. We managed to raise two kids pretty much tantrum-free that way."

Use a Quiet Approach

"When my child becomes excessively loud or begins acting up, I start speaking very quietly, almost in a whisper. I use non-aggressive words and body language. Once I've gotten his attention, I try to calm him down as best I can."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.