development/ Teaching

How to deal with toddler tantrums

toddler tantrum 2

Trust me, having more than thirty years of experience as a kindergarten teacher, I know more than anybody else that tantrums during the toddler-period are normal. However, sometimes they can become a big problem. Often parents ask me: how do I discipline a toddler? My experience is that being strict does not help. Being understanding and consistent works much better. This is the reason that I have outlined how to deal with toddler tantrums.

Why do toddlers, in particular, have tantrums?

Children want to be big, they want to develop themselves and become independent. But…for a toddler that is often still very difficult. Sometimes he is unable to do something well, because his motor skills have not developed well enough, sometimes he is unable to do something, because he doesn’t understand it enough, but usually a toddler has a tantrum because he has not developed sufficiently emotionally. He does have severe emotions, but his emotional development has not caught up, not allowing it to handle accordingly.

You probably recognize it: toddler tantrums at table, toddler tantrums at bedtime, when you are focusing on the baby or the worst: toddler tantrums at public locations like the supermarket. A toddler that is lying on the floor of the supermarket angry and yelling because you are not allowing it to have sweets, while he wants them NOW. HELP! As mentioned, I have outlined the best advices for you regarding how to deal with toddlers’ tantrums. Then you can learn what to do to stop these difficult situations as soon as possible.  

Parents, when your child has a tantrum, don’t get scared or embarrassed. It is normal and it is part of your toddlers’ development. However, you can help them the to control the tantrums. These advices can also help you to avoid tantrums all together.

Best advices for surviving tantrums

  • Some children are more likely to have a tantrum when they are hungry, tired or overstimulated. It is sensible to eat earlier, when you notice that your toddler has tantrums around dinnertime. When you child is tired, but it is not bedtime yet, you can take a pause with your toddler, for example by reading it a book or making a puzzle together. Try to avoid the TV or other screens, because those can lead to the toddler getting overstimulated.
  • During busy periods, like during Christmas or a birthday, it is extra important to consider the emotions of your child. Don’t make the party to exciting or stressful. Your toddler also enjoys the small things.  
  • Maybe it can be useful to pay attention to the amount of sugar your child is eating and drinking. There is often sugar in products, where you would not expect it. However, in certain periods your child may eat more sweets and other sugary products. Often toddlers will have more tantrums in those periods!
  • Talk with your child. Create moments, during which it is easy for your child to talk with you about its emotions. For example, when you are sitting on the sofa together, after reading a book. There are good picture books that invite your child to talk about its emotions.

I am very enthusiastic about this series of 5 books. Every book discusses a different emotion. This makes it easier for your toddler to talk about his emotions.

Toddler tantrums

For the toddler that is slightly older it is great to use this series: Train your dragon to accept NO, or train your dragon to be patient, or to be kind. Excellent, because your toddler can identify with the dragon, but also with the person raising the child. For more book ideas see my blog article about educational toys for babies.

Toddler tantrums
  • Toddlers can have intense emotions while at the same time lacking impulse control. You should understand that tantrums are simply part of this period.
  • A fixed ritual, for example when going to bed, can avoid tantrums at bedtime. Your child will know what it can expect.
  • When you notice that your child is getting more emotional, than distraction can help. It is also important to take your child out of the situation on time.
  • During the tantrum it is difficult to talk with your child. Tell it that you are aware that he is angry because, for example, he does not want to leave the playground yet, and that you are sorry that he is. But also tell it that your reason to leave is more important.
  • Often, you can avoid problems by telling your toddler “that you are leaving in five minutes,” on time. You do have to be consistent.
  • Don’t get angry, because that will only add to the emotions, but stay calm.
  • Know that when your toddler has a tantrum, it will kick, hit and yell at its parents. Don’t take this behavior personally. That does not, however, entail that you have to accept hitting etc. After the tantrum the toddler will probably be sad, and it won’t understand its own emotions. That is the perfect moment that you can tell your toddler that you understand that he is angry, but that you don’t accept its behavior.
  • Depending on the age of your toddler you can discuss possible solutions against its tantrums together. Do however pay attention that in doing this you don’t give the toddler its own way. Raising a child means setting boundaries. A role play can be very clear for your toddler. You play the toddler with a tantrum and he will play the parent.
  • Sometimes a certain sign can be enough to take your toddler out of a tantrum. For example, a wink or a hand on its shoulder.
  • Be consistent and calm in your approach. When you give your child its way sometimes during a tantrum and another time you don’t, you will only make things worse.

Positive parenting

Your toddler has to know that, despite its bad behavior, you still love it. Imposing boundaries and being an example for your child is very important in raising it.

If you see that your toddler is able to control its emotions better, with or without your help, it is time to make compliments or even to give it an award. For example, this can be playing a game together for ten minutes. Compliments work better then punishments. I will most probably write a blog about positive parenting soon.


As usual, I end the blog with questions from parents of toddlers from my class.

Q:How do you stop a tantrum?

A: There is no secret method that always works. you have to try different things and try to find out what causes the tantrum. In the above article I describe several tips to deal with the tantrums. Try them out and see for yourself what works for you toddler.

Q: Why do toddlers have tantrums?

A: This is mainly because toddlers can not talk well yet. This makes it very difficult for them to express their frustrations. So these frustrations often end in yelling and screaming.

Q: Can tantrums be a sign of autism?

A: I am not a specialist in this field, but I found this article very clear on the subject.

This message contains affiliated and / or paid links, which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I can earn a small commission without incurring extra costs. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love of companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this message can be considered as medical advice. I am just a mother who has been there and has lived to tell the story.

Do you have a question or a comment? please let me know. Leave a message!

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