Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

Although I am now on my 3rd and 4th toddler I have not really had to deal with full-on toddler tantrums. Both of the boys had wobblies and threw their toys out of the pram (metaphorically speaking), but they didn’t really do that on the floor kicking, screaming and gnashing of teeth toddler tantrums. My girls on the other hand really can tantrum in style.

Today one of the twins was having a complete nervous breakdown about the fact that her brother was eating crisps out of a packet (these were given as part of his picnic dinner and she had already had her dinner). She wanted some crisps too. They hadn’t cleaned teeth yet and all dinner had been consumed so the husband was happy to let her have some and so he began to get a bowl out of the cupboard and she lost her sense of reason. There were tears, there was stamping of feet, there was dropping to the floor in abject horror of the sheer injustice of the world and all because she wanted to hold the packet….

The record for the longest tantrum in our house is around 1hr. It was one of the twins and she simply could not be placated I tried:

  • Ignoring the behaviour
  • Trying to engage with her to find out what is wrong
  • Getting down to her level – I got a push and a ‘NO’ for that
  • Giving her a big cuddle – the love was not reciprocated
  • Putting on the TV in order to distract

I knew I was in real trouble when not even Peppa Pig jumping in muddy puddles could stop the onslaught of the toddler tantrum and so I thought I would do a bit of research to see what the experts say about dealing with toddler tantrums.

The main things I have found point to distraction as being the key. This did always work with the boys, but these girls seem to be far more determined to continue their misery once it starts. Whether it is nature or nurture I do not know, but it is a fact in our household. I guess we should admire their tenacity and strong will, but it is not ideal to have to keep stepping over a child as they lie prostrate on the hall floor seemingly devastated by a tragedy such as not having been first through the front door!

One suggestion I did see was around working out why they are having the tantrum and trying to deal with the root cause. I was looking at the Tamba website and they mentioned that one of the main causes of tantrums was frustration. This was something I knew in regards to communication issues but interestingly they suggested that toddler tantrums were often caused by a frustration caused by their own clumsiness. This was real ‘aha’ moment for me (not the ‘Take on Me’ kind) for at least one of my girls. She often wants to be first whether it is through the door, on the scooters or up the stairs. The problem is that physically she is the least developed and is the smallest so she can’t scoot as fast as her siblings or run up the stairs in the way that her brothers can and so she loses it. I am now assuming that it is this physical disadvantage that is creating her angst rather than the being first part.

So after my research and unfortunately, lots of recent experience. Here is a list of my top tips for dealing with toddler tantrums:

  • Distract, distract, distract
  • Cuddle and reassure the toddler
  • Stay calm and if you get stressed out and can leave the child safely then hide for a minute. The loo is my favourite spot, but we do have cameras in the playroom so I can watch what the littles are up to on my phone
  • If they are trying to get their own way don’t give in. It might stop the tantrum now but it will be back again at some point bigger than ever!
  • Ignore the behaviour if it’s safe to do so
  • If you have other children engage them in something fun. The ‘tantrumer’ often notices this and wants to join in so they stop all the drama
  • Don’t give a flying about what others think. It is hard when you are out and about not to feel the weight of people staring if your child is having a massive wobbly, but I just try to ignore them and silently curse their staring and judgy eyes in my head.
  • Change locations it might help with the distraction and just break the tension. Sometimes we might just go for a walk around the block and the change of scenery really does seem to help

If all that fails then I am afraid it is just steeling yourself for the duration and plan a large glass of wine for once they are in bed!

This article was first published by NavigatingBaby, also on Twitter


A digital publication where parents share their joy, struggles, laughter and tears. We believe that every parent can help another by telling their story, sharing an experience or simply listening.

Comments are closed.