Toddler Tantrums

Tired of Toddler Tantrums? Know the type of tantrum you’re dealing with!

toddler tantrumsThere are two types of toddler tantrums. The first type is displayed by the child who has been dragged around all day running errands, has missed naptime and is feeling “trapped” by the confinement of a stroller. The child who “loses it” at the end of such a day probably just needs a hug in the moment and desperately needs for her parents to recognize and respect her need for routine and structure during the day.

The second type of toddler tantrum is a display of power and is used by the child to manipulate the parents into giving into the child’s demands. This type of tantrum might be a public meltdown in the grocery store, a verbal tirade or stomping away in a “huff” and slamming the door. The child is digging in his heels and saying, “you can’t make me” or “you had better give in, or else”. (The “or else” is the tantrum!)

As frustrating and maddening as toddler tantrums can be, they do “make sense” when we see it from the child’s perspective. The child is trying to get her way and she’s learned from past experience that having a total meltdown usually works! The next time toddler tantrums occur – remember these two key points:

Key Point #1: Toddler Tantrums aren’t nearly as appealing or rewarding without an audience.

So…remove the audience! As long as the child is in a safe place – walk away; be completely unimpressed with the tantrum and trust me – the tantrum will fizzle within minutes. I know this sounds crazy – but as long as the child is not in danger of hurting herself or others, you should do nothing and leave the room, if possible. (I’ll talk about public tantrums below.)

You may have a repeat performance in a day or two – but by remaining consistent in not providing an audience – the child will quickly learn that there’s no PAYOFF in having a tantrum. It works like “magic”.

Key Point #2: Your child has a right to have a tantrum. You have the right to not participate.(Commit this concept to memory to give you strength when it happens in the future!)

This is liberating to know. Now you can take comfort in knowing it’s not your job to end the tantrum. The child has every right to have a tantrum and you have every right to not participate! If you are in a public place, you can’t leave the child to have his tantrum. In this situation, you should “emotionally detach”. Calmly take the child to the corner of the store or ditch your cart and go out to your car and allow the child to have the tantrum (keep a good book handy so you can pull it out and read until he’s finished) I’m not kidding!

What you don’t want to do is try to reason, explain, lecture or talk him down “off the ledge.” Your job is to FORGET WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK and let your child have the tantrum without a payoff from you. When you try to “stop” the tantrum, the child sees that you are obviously “rattled” and it reinforces that he has tremendous power over you by having a tantrum in a public place where you feel vulnerable.

Instead, pull out your book, let your child have the tantrum and smile politely to any one who sends a stare your way.

What are some of the ways you handle toddler tantrums? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.