Monday, May 26, 2014

Toddler Tantrums & How We Handle Them

I've been thinking about writing this post for awhile.... it seems like all my mom friends are going through the same thing right now with our growing toddler tornadoes.

Disclaimer: These are my experiences and my opinions. I'm definitely not an expert! 

Toddler tantrums= When emotions and preferences are strong, but rationality hasn't kicked in yet. They come on quickly and usually include screaming, crying and flailing.

The "terrible twos" hit around 17 months. London started banging his head on the floor, counter, bathtub, car seat and toilet. That evolved into screaming, hitting and throwing himself, dramatically, on the ground.

I started googling "toddler tantrums help" to try and figure out what to do and how I could help prevent them. Well, it turns out there's no magical fix for a toddler tantrum. There's also no science to knowing what exactly is going to set London off. All I know is, when it passes, I'm very thankful for every other dull moment in my day.

I'm no expert, but I do know my child, and I'm slowly (VERY SLOWLY) learning how to prevent them from happening as often. Here's what working for us:

1. Don't rush him.

When London feels rushed he breaks down. I usually try and start getting ready to leave at least fifteen minutes before we actually have to be out the door. Before, I would end up chasing him around the house to put his shoes on and end up getting frustrated when he wasn't listening. Frustrated mama= frustrated toddler. I also give him LOTS of notice when we plan to leave the park. We say "a few more times" on the slide and then "one more time" when it's all done.

2. Say bye to things.

London needs to understand that something is done or leaving or he gets upset. We encourage him to say "bye" to things. Yes, this includes the slide, park, ipad, bubble guppies, snacks etc. If we simple take something away, without notice, the tantrums usually start.

3. Explain our "no's."

Just saying NO seems to really set London off. We like to try and explain why he can't have that/do that/eat that. "London, it's almost supper so you'll be eating soon. Put that back please." Eliminating the word "no" as much as possible has really helped.

4. Let him be bored.

This is when London is often at his best. He loves going for a run in the stroller, taking in the sights, and day dreaming. No games, no tv, no ipad. Just him and his thoughts. It always calms him down. Giving him too many options often overwhelms him.

5. Be stern but don't yell.

I have a temper. Jarod has a temper. Sometimes we yell and then London has a temper tantrum and we all feel worse. We have really tried to work on staying calm when London is doing something he shouldn't be doing (like throwing his food on the floor) and explaining why this makes us upset. "London, don't throw your food on the floor, it makes mama sad that she has to clean all that up."


What we do if a Tantrum happens...

1. Have a plan in place.

Yes, we do spank London occasionally. It isn't my first choice, but sometimes necessary. Like this weekend, when he ran out on to the road three times.

We have a plan in place for how we deal with "bigger problems." Our first choice is to get down to his level and explain why we're upset (See #4), then we say "look at mama/daddy" and explain what he did that upset us and then we ask him to say sorry for his actions. He says sorry (saw-ra) then gives us a kiss. We always give him a hug so he knows we're not mad.

This doesn't always work. Sometimes, during the tantrum, London doesn't want to listen to what we're saying so we just offer a hug and say "it's okay London, calm down" and rub his back (if he'll let us.) Or, if it's really bad, we just let him work through it. That includes walking away (after making sure he's not going to injury himself or others.) Usually, it ends with him crying it out for a minute or two and then running to mama for "up, kiss."

So there you have it. A few things that are working for us!

No/Limited Tantrums= Happy Mama and Daddy

What are you doing to help control/limit your Todder's Tantrums?
Do they ever end? (kidding! Kind of.... )


  1. Great post! I will have to keep this tucked into the back of my mind for future use! :)

    1. Absolutely! Maybe by then there will be some magical cure ;)

  2. We are definitely in this stage too! Palmer's dramatic throwing of herself on the floor is a daily occurrence around our house. Sometimes I can't help but laugh, but often it ends up with a frustrated mama!

  3. Great post and good tips.
    Liam often throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way and I just do my best to ignore them. I don't want to give that behaviour attention, making him think he will get his way if he continues acting that way.

    My parents told me when I was a toddler I threw one temper tantrum in public and they walked away and left me there. I never threw one ever again after that. I hope that I can work through my frustration with Liam to reach a point where we can both deal with tantrums better. My biggest frustration is that he just doesn't listen to me no matter what I do! Ugh, kids!

    1. Maybe I should try what your parents did, haha! Hey, if it works, why not?!

      I do say "bye" when London isn't listening in public and he'll usually wait a few minutes then chase after me... haha!

  4. I agree with Alison...great post and tucking it away for later :)

  5. Toddler tantrums are the worst!! I've been having a much harder time with the toddler than the newborn!

    Great advice and we do a lot of those things too. I've been following a parenting educator on FB- Andrea McNair (or Nair? Can't ever remember!) She gives lots of suggestions on how to deal with tantrums and we've had quite a bit of success with them.

    1. Yes, they are brutal! Especially out in public, haha! I don't get too embarrassed (because really, what can you do?!) but they're not fun!! I'll have to look up that Andrea lady! I love reading how other people are handling them... Thanks!!