By: Vickie | Updated: 26th June 2023
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Raising a toddler can be a challenge at times. One of the most common issues parents face is toddler temper tantrums. Tantrums can be frustrating and embarrassing for both parents and kids.
Many parents focus on ways to manage temper tantrums in the moment, but did you know that there are actually things you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place?
While it’s impossible to prevent every meltdown, there are some things you can do to help minimize them.
Have a routine
Toddlers thrive on routine. Having a set schedule helps them feel secure and understand what is happening in their world.
Routines provide predictability and a sense of control for toddlers, two things that can help reduce stress and frustration.
Try to stick to a regular schedule as much as possible and give your child plenty of warning before any changes occur. When something disrupts their routine, it can sometimes lead to tantrums.
Giving your toddler choices can help them feel a sense of control and prevent tantrums. Whenever possible, offer two or three simple choices and let your child decide what they want to do.
For example, if you’re going to the park, ask them if they want to swing on the swings or play in the sandbox.
Offering choices works especially well for getting toddlers to do something they typically don’t want to do. The key is not to offer a choice of actually doing the task, but instead, offer choices on HOW to do the task.
Let’s say it’s a difficult chore each night getting your child to take a bath. Taking or not taking a bath isn’t the choice, as it’s something they need to do.
So we don’t want to ask if they want to take a bath, but instead, we will ask HOW they would like to take their bath.” For tonight’s bath, would you like bubbles or no bubbles? Would you like to play with the boats or the ducks?”
Encouraging your toddler to communicate can also help reduce tantrums. When they are feeling frustrated or angry, encourage them to use their words to express themselves.
This can be difficult for toddlers as they are still learning how to communicate but with time and practice, it will get easier.
You can help by demonstrating clear communication yourself. It can be as simple as just saying out loud, “Boy, I’m hungry. I think I’ll have some lunch now” or “I’m feeling frustrated because I can’t reach my book. Can you please help me?”
Model appropriate behavior
As we mentioned above with demonstrating good communication skills, modeling the behavior you’d like to see in your children is an excellent way to teach skills without the child feeling like you’re telling them to do something.
Children learn by mimicking their parents so it is important to model appropriate behavior for your toddler. If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated, take a deep breath and model calm behavior for your toddler.
They will learn from your example and be more likely to handle their own emotions in a healthy way.
Avoid known triggers
One way to prevent tantrums is to avoid known triggers. If there are certain activities, places, or people that tend to trigger a meltdown in your toddler, try to avoid them if possible.
For example, if your child gets overwhelmed and tantrums at the grocery store, try shopping online or during less busy times instead. If you know your toddler gets upset when they are hungry, make sure to have snacks with you when you’re out and about. If they have a hard time transitioning from one activity to another, try giving them more warning before the transition occurs.
Toddlers are notoriously resistant to change. A sudden transition, like switching tasks or being moved to a new location, can result in a tantrum.
Many parents have found that giving a warning before transitions prevents these outbursts. But why does this work?
According to recent research, toddlers understand more than we give them credit for, and as we discussed earlier, they benefit from predictable routines. When they know what to expect, they’re less likely to have a tantrum.
So next time you’re about to switch gears, give your toddler a heads up! It could save both of you some stress.
This includes things like moving from one room to another, switching from one activity to another, or ending a play session and winding down for bedtime.
Set limits and be consistent
It’s important to set limits with your toddler and be consistent with them. Having clear boundaries will help your toddler feel safe and understand what is expected of them.
If you’re inconsistent with your rules or expectations, it can lead to confusion and frustration for your toddler which can sometimes result in a tantrum.
For example, if you tell your toddler they can have just one cookie and they ask for another and you say no, they may feel frustrated and throw a tantrum.
Don’t give in! It’s important to be consistent with your limits so your toddler knows what to expect and that throwing a tantrum will not change your limit or answer.
Provide ample opportunities for physical activity
It’s no secret that toddlers have a lot of energy. It seems like they’re constantly on the go! And when they don’t have an outlet for all that energy, it can lead to tantrums.
Providing ample opportunities for physical activity can help prevent these outbursts.
Try to schedule some active playtime into your toddler’s day, whether it’s going for a walk or run outside, playing at the park, dancing around the house, or anything else that gets them moving.
If you can tire them out before they reach their tipping point, you may be able to avoid a meltdown altogether.
Use positive reinforcement
Finally, one of the best ways to manage toddler tantrums is to use positive reinforcement. When your toddler is behaving well, make sure to give them plenty of praise and attention.
This will help encourage good behavior and let them know that they’re on the right track.
Similarly, you can use a sticker chart or other system to reward good behavior. This will help teach your toddler that tantrums are not an effective way to get what they want, and that good behavior is more likely to result in the desired outcome.
We hope these tips are helpful in managing your toddler’s temper tantrums. Remember, every child is different so what works for one may not work for another.
The most important thing is to remain calm and patient as you’re working through this challenging stage with your toddler. With time and practice, things will get easier so hang in there! You’ve got this!