Dealing With Tantrums

As a mom I think we can all agree that when your toddler is throwing a fit in public, you feel like everyone is staring, judging, and is immediately annoyed. I personally turn a beautiful hue of red and want to run away. I’m writing this because I need a new strategy other than leaving the shopping cart where it is, run out of the store, and never return. I’m running out of grocery stores…


Here are some tips for the next time your toddler is losing their shit over a box of cinnamon toast crunch!


Tip #1: Snacks & Nap Time

Bring snacks everywhere you go. When your little is hangry they turn into irrational monsters. Also keep in mind their nap time. When kids get hungry and tired they have zero tolerance for any kind of disappointment. They don’t understand that they need a nap and a snack so they lash out.

I don’t do well hungry and tired and I’m a grown ass woman. So keeping in mind snacks and nap time will help so much.


Tip #2: Watch & Learn

Does your kid freak out when she sees all the candy in the checkout lane? Do your attempts to get your little guy dressed before you leave in the morning end in screaming and tears?

Research shows that events leading up to a temper tantrum are critical to whether toddler tantrums actually take place.

Pay attention to the situations where your child tends to lose his/her cool. When you see a trend, brainstorm ways to avoid the breakdown.

  • In the checkout lane at the grocery store, ask your little one to be your helper and count the grocery items as you take them out of the basket.
  • If you tend to do battle over getting dressed in the morning, try giving him a choice between two items: “It’s time to get dressed now. Do you want to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?”


Tip #3: Relax

So what if they are wearing plaid with stripes? You’ll have plenty of time to help with fashion sense later on. Pick your battles mama!


Tip #4: Brace Yourself

We have such a huge influence on our babies attitudes and perception. They feed off of your energy. Don’t feed any frustration or aggravation into the fit. If you see a tantrum coming on, remind yourself that this too shall pass. Studies say that the average tantrum only last about 3 minutes. So keep your cool and it will be over before you know it.


Tip #5: The 3 No’s

    1. Don’t give in! If little is throwing a fit over a Snickers bar, don’t give him the damn Snickers bar. Sure, it may help you escape the situation this time. But giving in teaches him that all he has to do when he wants something is to absolutely lose it.
    2. Don’t ignore or punish. Research shows ignoring toddler tantrums doesn’t help, nor does punishing them with time-outs. Think back to a time when you were really upset. Maybe your boyfriend had just dumped you and you had been SURE he was The One. Or that time you got a talking-to from your boss’s boss and nearly crapped your pants. You probably met your best friend and confided every tiny detail – twice – and sobbed into your wine glass. Now imagine if when your friend first got wind you were upset, she turned away and pretended not to hear you. Or worse, she got up from the table, left the room, and shut the door behind her. Would you magically snap out of your emotional upset and be happy as a clam? Your kid doesn’t work that way either.
    3. Don’t try to reason. You can’t reason with a toddler. Their brains don’t compute, especially mid tantrum. Don’t waste your energy on this.



Tip #6: Talk To Them

So what can you say and do? What will help? Acknowledge their feelings. Going back to our example of when you’ve been most upset: Imagine your friend looks you in the eye and says, “You’re upset. You were hoping that Billy was the person you were going to marry one day.” And then she gives you a hug.

When we’re upset, we want to be heard. Labeling your emotion can help you calm down and move on. Your kid is the same way.

Here are a few examples of how to validate your kid’s emotions without giving into his demands:

  • “You are so mad. You are showing me how much you wanted that candy.”
  • “I’m sorry you’re (state the emotion). When you calm down, I’ll give you a hug and we can talk about what happened.”

Getting through the terrible twos and tantrum throwing fits can seem like a lifetime but I promise if you take a deep breath and understand that their brains are firing a million miles an hour and they don’t understand, you will be able to get through it. Most of the time they don’t understand why they are throwing a fit, they just know they are disappointed and this is how they are choosing to express disappointment. Roll with it mama, you got this!

Written by Whitney Rowley