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How to deal with toddler tantrums

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All you want is for your little one to be happy, so it can be hard to see them get upset or cross. And exhausting!! We can’t promise that we have all the answers, but we do have some good ideas for how to manage tantrums and tips to try and stop them in the first place.

Top tantrum tips

Tip #1: Spot patterns

It's easy to feel helpless when your child has a tantrum, but you might start to notice the same things are causing them every time. Maybe they’re too hot or too cold, they’re hungry, or even just really tired. If you can work out what caused it, then maybe you can stop it from happening next time.

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Tip #2: Out and about

Sometimes simple things like pointing out what you can see on the bus or in the shops could help lead to fewer tantrums. It helps keep them entertained – and they love getting your attention.

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Tip #3: Be positive

It’s really important to tell your toddler when they’re being good and tell them what have they done well. Giving your wee one lots of cuddles and kisses for good behaviour keeps them happy and you never know, it may stop that tantrum from starting.

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Tip #4: Distract!

If you can see that a tantrum is coming, try and distract your child. You could sing a funny song together, suggest they help you look for a toy, or just sit down with them to read their favourite book.

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Tip #5: Give choices

Giving your toddler the chance to choose some things can also help to stop tantrums. Ask them if they want to wear the red top or the blue top, or if they would like to have a bath before or after brushing their teeth.

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Tip #6: Just ignore it

Another popular tip is just not to give any attention to your child when they are losing their temper. Getting cross or shouting back won't help. As long as they are safe you can always try to look away and wait for them to calm down themselves.

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Tip #7: Stay calm!

It’s really hard when we see our kids getting upset, but take a deep breath and remember you are in control. It’s ok to need a minute to calm yourself down before you try to calm them down.

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Tip #8: Your attention

Sometimes they just want some of your attention. They could be jealous if you’re talking to your friends or another child. If you are noticing this is happening, lift them onto your knee for cuddles.

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What the professionals say

“Tantrums are how young children deal with frustrations and difficult emotions. If your child is throwing lots of tantrums it may help to try and work out what’s upsetting them. Sometimes even small changes in routine can lead to outbursts. You can help your child manage these difficult emotions by staying close by and offering comfort as this will calm them. Do not ‘give in’ to your toddler’s demands - they must not see tantrums as a way of getting what they want. Staying calm and being there for your child can help them learn better ways to express their feelings.”

Sue Packham, Interim Head of Nursing, Health Visiting Service, Perth & Kinross, NHS Tayside

More information

Our Community & Support page has lots of different places to look for support. Remember you can talk to your Health Visitor or Family Nurse about your child’s behaviour and how you can deal with it.

For other tried and tested help with tantrums, you can also check out Ready Steady Toddler for more suggestions and tips.

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Behaviour Behaviour Tips Toddler (1-3 years)

Last updated: 29 Apr, 2019