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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Dealing with Tantrums

Tips for surviving those toddler tantrums

Oh the toddler exciting time of seeing little personalities develop, while they explore and test boundaries...and with that, comes toddler tantrums! Dealing with toddler tantrums can be challenging, but there are several strategies that you can use to help manage them. Here are some tips:

Stay calm. When your toddler is having a tantrum, it's important to stay calm and composed. Yelling or getting angry can escalate the situation and make it worse. Validate their feelings. Toddlers often have tantrums because they are struggling to express their emotions. Let them know that you understand how they feel, and that it's okay to be upset.

Connection before correction. When we're in an agitated state, our brains are not receptive to learning. The same is true of toddlers. So it can be helpful to first see them and validate their feelings, for example: "I can see you're really sad that it's time to leave the playground. Would you like a hug?" Alternatively it's okay to just let them know you're there, maintaining a calm supportive presence until the big feeling has washed over. It's only when the nervous system is calm and receptive that you can teach; in this example, maybe explain that it is getting dark and time for dinner, but that you can return to the playground another day.

Use distraction. Sometimes, distracting your toddler with a different activity or toy can help to shift their focus away from the source of the tantrum. Set clear boundaries. It's important for toddlers to understand that there are limits to what they can and cannot do. Set clear boundaries and stick to them. Remember that it is possible to be both kind and firm! Give (limited) choices. Toddlers like to feel like they have some control over their lives. Give them choices whenever possible, such as which outfit to wear or which snack to eat. Generally it's best to offer a limited choice of two options, for example: "Would you like to wear the red or the blue outfit today?" Use positive reinforcement. When your toddler behaves well or manages to calm down after a tantrum, be sure to praise and reward them. Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator. Take care of yourself. Dealing with tantrums can be stressful, so it's important to take care of yourself too. Take breaks when you need them, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Plus, it's important for our toddlers to see us modeling healthy ways to deal with big emotions, so it's okay to say, for example: "I'm feeling some big feelings right now (anger/frustration etc). I'm just going to take a deep breath (or count to 10, or even take a short walk outside), and then I'll be right back." Remember that tantrums are a normal part of toddler development, and that they will eventually outgrow them. With patience, consistency, and empathy, you can help your child learn to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

Be well,


Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. You can find out more at

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