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How to Control Toddler Temper Tantrums

How to Control Toddler Temper Tantrums

Ever wonder how to control toddler temper tantrums without losing your patience? As a parent, it’s natural to struggle or worry once your toddler suddenly bursts out crying and screaming.

Temper tantrums do not automatically equate to bad behavior. There is likely a bigger reason a toddler is acting out.

How to Control Toddler Temper Tantrums

Before we delve deeper into how to control toddler temper tantrums, let’s first define what it means.

Temper tantrums happen as a response to strong emotions. Young children ages 1 to 3, aren’t yet capable of fully expressing their feelings with words and are not aware of whether their actions are socially acceptable or not.

This causes them to throw tantrums.

Throwing a tantrum is a child’s way of showing frustration, anger, and distress. Crying, screaming, kicking, throwing things, and running away are some of the behavior exhibited during a tantrum.

What causes a temper tantrum?

Toddlers are not just developing physically and mentally, they are also undergoing changes about their emotions and social skills. To further understand a toddler’s temper tantrum, it helps to understand its possible causes.

Tantrums happen when:

  • your child is hungry, tired, and stressed. Children who aren’t adept with words cannot ask for their needs that is why they resort to crying.
  • children can’t get what they want. Being upset over things they can’t get (like wanting a new toy) triggers tantrums.
  • your toddler feels left out or ignored. Young children love attention, when you don’t notice the things they do, they resort to tantrums for them to get noticed.
  • children are having difficulty dealing with emotional situations, such as being teased by other kids or being scolded by their parents.
  • your toddler feels afraid or anxious. Pushing children to do something that they are not comfortable with or showing them the things they’re scared of will likely result in tantrums.
  • a child is having trouble understanding the parents’ instructions or commands.

How to prevent temper tantrums?

You cannot permanently avoid tantrums, as it only happens depending on your child’s mood. Temper tantrums can only be prevented from not occurring frequently. Here’s what you can do:

  • Always check if your child is hungry or tired. Follow your scheduled mealtime and bedtime daily. This will help in keeping your child full, happy, and active all day.
  • Do not ignore your child. When your child is trying to get your attention, try your best to notice him/her, always smile and appreciate his/her affection towards you.
  • Let your child choose. Giving children options will make them feel that you value their opinion on certain matters. When at the mall, for example, give your child choices like “Do you want a toy or a shirt?”. This will help your child learn a sense of control and power over the things they do.
  • Talk to your child about what they feel. Asking toddlers about their feelings toward situations will help them determine what sort of emotions they are showing.
  • Appreciate good behavior. If you reprimand your child for misbehaving, do not forget to commend your child for behaving well. When you appreciate your child’s good deeds, this will lessen the occurrence of toddler temper tantrums.
  • Let your child explore and learn on their own. There are times when children just like to be alone. When you see that they’re busy doing their own thing, do not interfere. Allow them to discover and be familiar with their environment.
  • Schedule your trips. Before going out, make sure that your child gets enough rest and not hungry. You don’t want a toddler screaming for food while doing your groceries, right?
  • Know your child’s limit. Children become frustrated easily when they cannot figure things out on their own. For example, when giving toys to your child, make sure that these toys are age-appropriate. Avoid giving them toys or materials that are beyond their comprehension, so we can avoid frustration.
  • Explain the word “no”. Toddlers start to do tantrums when they hear the word “no”. It helps to explain to your child how they can’t get everything they want. Saying “no” to your child will help you set limits, as well as help them with their mental, social, and emotional development.

How to control toddler temper tantrums

As a parent, dealing with tantrums can be upsetting and embarrassing, especially when you’re in public. The situation will only get worse once you become irritated and mad at your child.

Here are better ways to control toddler temper tantrums:

Stay calm

According to studies, parents who overreact and have disruptive parenting behavior are more likely to have toddlers who misbehave and get upset easily.

When your child starts having disruptive tantrums, take a breather, and deal with the situation calmly. If you let your anger and frustration take over, your child will continue to act up and make the situation unbearable.

Withhold attention

According to a journal, you can control a temper tantrum by ignoring the behavior. As previously mentioned, toddlers love attention. When they strike a tantrum, shouting and getting mad at them will only show that you give in to their actions.

Ignoring your child during these situations does not mean you don’t care. Ignoring is the best way to dismiss negative behavior and is a way for your child to learn that he/she cannot get things by whining or screaming.

Always remember that you can only use this strategy during non-physical tantrums like shouting and wailing. Your toddler needs immediate attention when showing disruptive tantrums such as throwing things or hurting themselves and others.

Come up with discipline strategies

Disciplining your child will help in dealing with tantrums. Once your child has finished acting up, you can use the following strategies to control tantrums:

  • Time-out is when you give your child some time to reflect and think about his/her behavior alone.
  • Talk time is about communicating with your child and ask him/her about the behavior. Let your child express their feelings as well, so you can figure out what has triggered the tantrums.

Stay firm

No matter how your child misbehaves, once you say “no”, nothing will change. If you give in to your child’s outburst, he/she will figure out that giving a fit will help them get what they want. Doing this is another way on how to control toddler temper tantrums.

Comfort your child

Young children throw a fit when feeling sad, afraid, or worried. As a parent, you need to give comfort to your child to help them relieve strong emotions. For example, when your child gets scared, hug him/her and say that “everything will be alright, here’s mama/papa”.

When to call your doctor

Frequent toddler temper tantrums might be a sign of a more serious problem. Sometimes health problems such as learning disabilities, language delays, hearing and vision impairment, or other serious illnesses.

If you think that your child has these problems, ask for medical assistance immediately to prevent these issues from getting worse and for your child to get the right treatment.

Figuring out how to control toddler temper tantrums can be stressful. However, if you can’t manage your child’s behavior, they will have trouble understanding what’s right and what’s wrong.

Always try your best to understand your child as they are still learning how to express themselves with words and actions.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Temper Tantrums https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544286/ Accessed June 26, 2020

Over-reactive Parenting Linked to Problem Behavior in Toddlers https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/2012/feb/over-reactive-parenting-linked-negative-emotions-and-problem-behavior-toddlers Accessed June 26, 2020

Parental Reactivity to Disruptive Behavior in Toddlerhood: An Experimental Study

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10802-018-0489-4 Accessed June 26, 2020

Temper Tantrums in Toddlers: How to Keep the Peace https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/tantrum/art-20047845 Accessed June 26, 2020

Temper Tantrums https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=temper-tantrums-90-P02295 Accessed June 26, 2020

Temper Tantrums https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/temper-tantrums/ Accessed June 26, 2020

Temper Tantrums https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/tantrums.html Accessed June 26, 2020

How to Use Ignoring https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/consequences/ignoring.html Accessed June 26, 2020

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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated Jun 19, 2021
Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD