How do you deal with toddler tantrums?


The tantrums around here have completely escalated lately, to the point where we are having them at grand mal proportions. And yes I’m mostly talking about the toddler variety, though there have been a few adult versions as well in response to certain renovation ‘disasters’.  (Let’s not mention how laying the flooring on the stairs went. It’s done now, moving on…)


Tantrums I get. I don’t like them of course, but I totally understand wanting to push against the word ‘no’, especially when it must seem like it is only said to stop things that seem like fun.  I know that toddler tantrums are just a part of learning that no matter how much you flail your arms and scream that sometimes you won’t get exactly what you want, when you want it. Hell, we sometimes even forget this lesson as adults!


But the rage… I don’t understand the rage that completely takes over my (mostly) sweet and calm boy. It’s like he becomes possessed by it; hitting and kicking and screaming so much that his face goes bright red and I don’t even recognise him.  And he is not one to just lie on the floor either.  He will run, slam doors and continue trying to get whatever it is he thinks he should have.  Which makes the whole ‘ignore it’ tactic pretty ineffective.  Unless of course, you’re happy to ignore said child as he breaks things and hurts himself.


Yesterday it was over a Peppa Pig drink bottle that I didn’t buy. Today it was because his ice-cream ran out.  The day before last it was because we wouldn’t let him sit on the table.


Often they coincide with the refusal to have a day nap but sometimes they are also triggered by his determination that “I not need sleep Mummy!”.  And each time the only way I’ve been able to calm him, is to literally body lock him against me and rock and shhh until he finally passes out.


I feel like the tantrums are only ramping up as we head towards three.  Please tell me he’ll be over this by the time baby brother arrives.  (Lie to me).


And in the meantime… what on earth do I do to survive toddler tantrums? Hit me with your tips!  Distraction? Time out? (assuming I can find some sort of padded secure space to be the time out area). Take up drinking…?



6 Responses to “How do you deal with toddler tantrums?

  • Have you read Raising Boys?
    I read it when C was a little baby and have been meaning to reread it.
    Anyway, one thing that stuck with me is that around the age of three boys get their first big surges of testosterone and they literally don’t know what to do with themselves. I have noticed this around here…all of a sudden he can’t just walk anywhere he has to RACE, gun play has escalated, and he seems to be experimenting with pushing which he has never done before. And the tantrums are bigger.
    It doesn’t really help stop the tantrums, but I find it helps a bit to understand why they might be occurring.
    Dropping the day nap is tough too…I have just learned I can’t go anywhere after three because he is just too volatile.
    The upside is he is sometimes asleep at five!

      9 years ago

      I read that ages ago. I think I need to revisit. Also wish no napping meant early bedtime here but it seems it just makes him fight it even more!

  • Tahleah
    9 years ago

    I would love some tips aswell!! Today my just turned 3yr old boy lost it and had a complet melt down at our local markets. At first people found it kind of funny and they where laughing with me . But then after 20min and he was still going it was just those looks. But what am I to do except hold him and continue to say no to the thing he wants but can’t have, as yelling and smacking in public is now a big no no. Totally lost?

      9 years ago

      I’m definitely at a loss too. I’m going to read that ‘raising boys book’ again and see if there are any tips in there. Good luck! X

  • Michele
    9 years ago

    Please investigate setting up a Calm Down Space or Calm Zones, and look at Time IN not Time Out, look at parenting stuff that is around being a calm presence, a container for his big emotions. Look for info on the Circle Of Security parenting program it talks beautifully about wherever possible meeting your child’s needs ( that doesn’t mean the ice cream or the toy or whatever …. One of the needs is ‘ help me organise my feelings’ and whenever necessary setting limits. It has this lovely summary of its approach something like ‘ always be bigger kinder stronger and wiser than your child’ . Easier said than done I know. Takes a lot of self awareness and self care. And reflective parenting. Read also How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids will talk it’s an oldie but a goodie. Give him words for his big feelings.

      9 years ago

      Thanks so much for your comment Michele, I really appreciate your help. I’m going to look into all of these things now.

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