How Do/did YOU Handle Toddler Tantrums?

Updated on December 10, 2011
E.A. asks from El Paso, TX
12 answers

When your child is throwing a tantrum how do you handle it? How do you manage to stay calm? Do you feel embarrassed if ppl look? Have you ever given in just to get them to stop (whining/yelling/crying) ?
I'm nearing the terrible two stage so I would like to hear everything in detail so I an follow advice.
Thank you in advance!
Also what was THE worst tantrum you ever experienced?

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answers from Kansas City on

Never give in! That is the most importanat thing I have learned. With my first I gave in a couple of times, but trust me it gets worse if you give in even once! When tantrums happen we simply leave and go to the car if we are out somewhere. If we are at home they are put in their room until they calm down. My oldest was the worst with tantrums. I think the worse one she ever had was when I would not give in and we left my friend's house with her kicking and screaming at me. It took me forever to buckle her into her car seat because she did the whole arch of the back thing. I think I finally had to give her a little swat on the leg to get her to where I could buckle her. Yes, I was very embarrassed and felt like I was the most horrible parent in the world, but I know I'm not now. I have to teach them how to act because if I don't then who will!

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answers from Kansas City on

I use the "count to 3, then consequence!" method. I started with my boy at around age 1.5. If he does not listen to me I count out loud... 1... 2 .. and then when I get to 3 he gets picked up no matter where he is or what he was doing, and he gets removed from the situation. I say it in a serious voice so he knows I am not just counting... I say ok, we are all done playing with the doors now... 1... 2... then he usually gets the message... and if not... he knows what comes after 3.

He will try and say "one more time" but I say NO, I said, LETS GO!

And if it is time to transition say, from the store, to the car.... tell him ahead of time... we are leaving in 5 minutes... The forewarning can help allot some times.

When a melt down occurs with my boy, I just let him be... yes it is annoying and can get anyone's nerves on the edge.. I have learned to shrug my shoulders to onlookers, wait until he is calm, get down to his level and in a calm voice say to him... I know you are mad, but we need to go. Do you understand me? Then I help him up from the floor, and leave.

I also struggle with him because he is autistic, and he can get overwhelmed so easily, with all the bright lights and people whizzing by and the loud noises... can sometimes set him off.. so I need to take a step back and see it through his eyes... for an instance, calm myself down and ignore the dirty looks from strangers... they don't know... they don't understand... and I dont have the energy to explain to every human being on this plannet why I let my son have a melt down in the middle of the store without loosing my marbles.

Be strong, be patient and be consistent.

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answers from Honolulu on

Knowing... WHY the tantrum is happening.

1) ie: is it because your child simply does not feel well and cannot, with all their might... control themselves, no matter how cognizant they are???
2) is it because, they are just being.... a total tantrumy, Troll, and doing it on purpose?

Based on that: I handle my kids.
1) comforting them, or
2) per their age/development, simply telling them it won't get them what they want/they know it is not nice/they can go to their room and get it all out and scream in there. THEN when they feel better, they can come out... and apologize and then, we will talk about it. But they already know... they were being... icky.

Not all tantrums... are for the same reason.
AND... it really depends on their age, their age juncture and age related development... of what you can "expect" as a Parent, for them to do or understand.... succinctly.

3) ALSO: if your child is TIRED and hungry or it is their nap-time.... keep them home. A tired child, will NOT do well out at a store or running errands or being in crowds or waiting in lines. When tired or past their nap time... a child has nil, patience.

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answers from Kansas City on

one of the worst was when he was about 2-3, and we went to the pumpkin patch. i took him by myself for some reason. anyway, i got online, looked for one that was in our price range, and drove 30 minutes to find it, out in the middle of nowhere, had NO idea where i was. once we got there all he wanted to do was play with some toy tractors JUST LIKE the ones he had back home in his bedroom. i was SO disappointed. i kept trying to convince him to go do some of the other activities, he refused to budge. eventually it turned into a tantrum when i decided i'd had enough and it was time to go home (this after 30 minutes of standing watching him play with tractors, mind you. i was bored out of my mind and tired of standing there lol) i had to physically pick him up and carry him- literally kicking and screaming to the car. he was SO mad at me, i swear he would have ripped my head off if he could have. i laid into him pretty good for acting like that in public and not listening to mommy when i said it was time to stop playing tractors and do something else. basically the whole way home he got lectured. that was the most embarrassing one. it was also the last public tantrum he threw. awhile before that he had thrown one at walmart. that time i left our cart and hauled his butt home, also lecturing him the whole way home. after those two incidents i didn't take him in public for almost two months. i kid you not. except for daycare and church he didn't go ANYwhere. after awhile he got out of that stage. but that's what i did when he threw them in public. i left and he was IN TROUBLE.

at home when he gets an attitude, he is sent to his room. he can act like that all he wants, but the rest of the family does NOT have to suffer through that. usually it goes on about 30 seconds in his room and then he plays happily by himself for awhile, before rejoining the family. the tantrums now (at age 5) are fewer and farther between but when he is tired/hungry/etc and the moment is right they can still happen. but they do NOT happen in public. ever. if he is having a hard time in a store now, we incorporate the "If you can't say something nice, zip it" rule, and i hurry and finish and we get out of there. it's easier now, but he is stong willed and can be stubborn so we still deal with some of it occasionally.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Williamsport on

My first two tried tantrums at 18 months. We didn't allow it. We allowed genuine emotions, and allowed for fatigue, etc, but "those type of tantrums" if you said no or something, nope. We gave one warning at the very beginning and a firm swat if it continued one moment past the warning. They never got in the habit of trying them. My oldest did try again at age 2 1/2 and ONLY in public, so I disciplined her there too once and she learned it wouldn't work. They've each been removed to a bathroom once or twice in public for a swat and that's all it took. My youngest was much angrier and started tantrums younger. She had a few more discipline episodes before she caught on. But we've never allowed them, so they don't happen.

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answers from Boston on

Toddlers throw tantrums because they have very intense feelings that they don't have the verbal ability to express. They express it the only way they can -- by having a tantrum. They are trying to show you the intensity of what they are feeling... if you can show them that you really do understand what they're trying to say, most of the time it will stop the tantrum in it's tracks. Something like this:

Child is crying hysterically. I ask "Are you mad? Are you MAD MAD MAD MAD MAD?" (I'll often add a stomp or two for emphasis) This shows not only that you know what emotion, but if you put some intensity into how you say it, they know that you get it... Child looks up with a tearstained face, and a little calmer says "YES!" Then I say something like "Are you mad because you can't have Ice Cream right now?" "Yes!" "I know how mad you are about that.... but I can't give you ice cream right now because it's almost dinnertime. Would you like to help me set the table?" Often, that's all it takes -- showing the kid that you really do understand them. And, this gives them the words that they need to express themselves in a situation like this. Sometimes it takes a few guesses to get the feeling right -- usually it's mad, sad, or frustrated.

These days, my son (almost 3) will correct me if I get the emotion wrong on the first guess. He's also pushing limits now, and will continue to scream if he thinks it will get him his own way. Screaming to get his way, as opposed to real emotional distress, is a completely different situation, and I just need to be able to either carry on with what we're doing, or leave wherever we are if he won't behave acceptably, we leave. Sometimes when I give him that choice, he calms down, and sometimes, we end up leaving.

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answers from Orlando on

If you only read one book about parenting toddlers, let it be "The Happiest Toddler on the Block", I personally think it was a life saver for me. It is a very easy read, and well worth it. It's not one of those methods that "might" work because "all" kids are different, no, no, this method (understanding your toddler) WORKS, and it's EASY. Read the book, understand your toddler, and become a confident and happy momma, with a kid that doesn't tantrum, for real!!

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answers from Austin on

a lot of great answers, but please skip the whole spanking thing, that's so dumb, violent, and less than effective. Violence begets violence, so you don't want to give any energy to the tantrum, negative energy included. I ignore the tantrum, then in a little bit let her know I'm here and she's usually ready for hugs and cuddles. It's really nothing to be mad about yourself, it's pure frustration on their part because their are limited in their freedom and language abilities.



answers from Chicago on

My son at 18 month started insisting on being carried when he didn't need to be. He has two full blown tantrums at the library. I just let him lay in the middle of the floor crying. This is my second kid, so the embarrassment factor is different for me. Staying with my NO means more to me than annoying people with their whines/cries, etc.

My son walked when asked to walk after those two tantrums, and that issue has never been raised again.

Worst tantrum was from my daughter at 22 months. I had just had my son, my hubby was away in Asia, so I couldn't even call him!, and she decided to throw a tantrum at 2 in the morning after getting up to go pee. She was so tired there was no calming her. It was awful.



answers from Los Angeles on

bust out your cell phone and record it for your little one. Then show it to them. When other kids are in a tantrum point it out to your child (quietly, I don't want the other parent to think I am judging them) and see how they feel about it. Usually they are shocked. Mine were. When they'd start I would pull out my phone and it would stop. They did not want to see themselves acting THAT way.



answers from Des Moines on

Stay calm and ignore it. And do NOT touch him unless there's a safety issue (touching him would send my son through the ROOF, and I'd get bit/hit/scratched)

In public it always makes ME feel better to provide snarky commentary ("Too bad you have the planets MEANEST mommy who won't let you stand up in the cart" "Can you scream louder, I don't think the guy in the meat department heard you")

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