6 Things Never to Do During a Toddler Temper Tantrum

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temper tantrumIf anything is a test of patience and grace under fire in this world, it's a toddler temper tantrum. As adorable as our little ones are, it can be a bit grating to witness and deal with one tantrum after the other during the course of a single day. But there are things we should do during tantrums, and things we definitely shouldn't.

Every family obviously has their own way of handling temper tantrums, but here are 6 things I've found to be a bad idea during the throes (or aftermath) of a toddler temper tantrum.

1. Don't walk away. I know there are some schools of thought that say walking away from your toddler while they're flailing about on the floor is the way to go to show your little one that you're not having it. But other philosophies say not to leave your toddler when they're acting a fool -- and I happen to agree. You don't want your kid to feel abandoned when they're upset, regardless of how irrational they're being. Try simply standing by them calmly when they freak out for bit.

2. Don't make fun of them or imitate them. Yes, tantrums can be funny -- especially when the reason behind it is incredibly trivial. But how would you feel if you were genuinely upset over something and people stood around making fun of you?

3. Don't take it personally. Frequent temper tantrums are a part of most toddlers' lives. It isn't anything you're doing "wrong." Your baby is likely just striving for independence. And just because your toddler has more tantrums than your friend's doesn't make you a worse mom. You're awesome!

4. Don't lose control. There's already one of you out of control, remember? Not only is lashing out at your child not cool, it definitely won't help. Sure, it can be unnerving to have your toddler blow a gasket at the supermarket, but you're not the first parent this has happened to. If your little one is inconsolable, try taking them to the bathroom or outside to let them get their freak out on in a less public place.

5. Don't reward them afterward. I know it can be super easy to say, "Okay, okay, okay, you want a cookie?" during a tantrum, but don't. It might be a quick, in-the-moment fix, but you don't want your child to think that every time he wants something, all he has to do is throw himself on the floor and scream.

6. Don't punish them. Toddlers are all emotion. This is one of their ways of communicating (they don't have many words, remember?), so they shouldn't be made to feel "bad" if they lose their cool. Yes, the goal is to have tantrums be an uncommon occurrence, but the older they get, the less they'll make an appearance.

How do you deal with your toddler's tantrums?


Image via Bernd Vogel/Corbis



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schlis schlis

I calmly wait until she's done, then ask if she needs a hug. The answer is usually yes. I read somewhere to do this, and it has worked out wonderfully. Sometimes I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing or screaming (depending on how my day is going) but it's worth it to keep control of myself. I think it helps my daughter to get herself under control faster too.

nonmember avatar Yup

Sometimes walking away is a very, very wise thing to do. That being said, I've been through my share of toddler tantrums so I basically sit there and watch her scream and shout and wait for her to finish. Then we'll snuggle or go about our day. But in the midst of a tantrum, they're not much you can really do.

Paws84 Paws84

Thanks for writing this. My little one's not at the toddler stage quite yet, but I often think about what the future entails....I'm sure temper tantrums will be involved and I've wondered how I would/should react. Good to get good advice like this and hear what other moms with experience have to say.

Tendr... TendrelovinMaMa

Happiest toddler on the block is the best! Check it out if u don't know what it is. My toddler rarely has tantrum anymore. Thanks to this method. :) oh n they do say imitate your child get down on their level because it shows empathy and understanding. I do This with my son and say back to him why I think he is mad... I works wonders, he looks at me like.... yes! You understand me!!! Toddlers are like cave People... their brains behavior wise are in a very primative state, they don't understand social rules and regs. Yet.

Vegas... Vegas0036

When I was doing some foster parent classes prior to having my own son, one of the things to do with a kiddo having a tantrum, and it's due to something YOU are saying no to, is to apologize.  But say something along the lines of "I'm sorry you can't have that cookie. I know it makes you really sad.  I love you."  He said to acknowledge what they are upset about and justifying their emotion but not their tantrum seems to be helpful.  My son is just 13 months old, so I haven't tried it yet.  But I know a lot of troubled foster kids who it seemed to work for.  Eh, maybe I'll give it a try when it's time!

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