Mums & Tots: Tips for dealing with toddler tantrums

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We’ve all been there. In the middle of the supermarket, down the cereal aisle, when your toddler takes fancy to the big box with the alien on it. It’s happened before and that time you caved in, only to get it home and find out they hated the cereal. So this time you tell them they can’t have it and suddenly you find yourself in world war 3, with everyone and their aunt looking at you. 


You have two options. Cave in again and buy the cereal, showing your child that this behaviour is acceptable. Or stand your ground and have everyone staring at you as though you are doing something so awful to your child that they need to ring the police. Oh wait, there is an option 3… you can leg it! 

I mean I don’t know about you but I can’t be doing with the staring but I can’t be doing with giving in either. 

But before you head for the door and run all the way home, here are some ways to help in those situations and keep everyone happy.

How to deal with tantrums so that everyone is happy and smiling

Avoid trigger situations – This is the best way to deal with them and mean no battle of wills at any point. You know them best and so will know when they get tired and hungry and what their triggers will be. Have back up snacks in your bag and make sure to avoid that cereal aisle!

Distraction – This is my favourite trick and one I will always use with my children or my friends’ kids. They will be crying their eyes out about something and I will say ‘oooooooh now would you look at that – isn’t that funny?’ and suddenly they snap out of it to see what I am looking at. Then before they can blink, I’m chatting again pointing out their lovely cardigan or their shoes. Before you know it, they have forgotten all about whatever it was that upset them. 

Hug them – Sometimes children are so worked up that all they really need is to be held and be shown some understanding. If they are upset because they can’t have XY or Z, hold them tight and say ‘I know, I know you wanted it, I am sorry you are upset’. Honestly this tack goes a long way. 

Speak calmly and softly – The louder children get, the softer I speak. It sparks their curiosity as they want to know what you are saying. It also has a calming effect on them and helps them to wind down again. 

Offer them a snack – This works by being a distraction but also by dealing with a likely cause of their behaviour too. I always carry raisins in my bag as they seem to work a treat every single time!

Take them away from the situation – If they really aren’t calming down then sometimes the only thing to do is to remove them from the situation completely. It often shocks them so much that it stops them dead in their tracks. Going to a quiet area can mean you can calmly deal with the situation and try the above techniques again.

Stay strong – It can be so hard when you feel that all eyes are on you. You don’t want to be the one causing all the noise and so giving in often seems the best way. But stay strong, you are the parent and your child needs to know that you can stand your ground and provide boundaries. 

Smile – Other people tend to judge how you react to the situation. So if you are smiling then they will know you have it under control (even if underneath you are hating every second!). And remember, you probably won’t see any of those people ever again so who cares what they are thinking. You are doing your best and that is all that matters. 

Toddlers are still learning how to communicate and so most of the time these outbursts will be to do with their inability to get their point across. They also want to assert their independence and so will push back at you at any given opportunity. 

With a little patience (repeating ‘this too shall pass’ over and over again) and a willpower of steel, you can weather the storm and come out the other side of this season with a 3 or 4-year-old who has left these tantrums behind and one that respects you as their parent too. 

Do you have any tips for keeping calm?



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About Katy WhatKatySaid

Katy is a busy mum of 3 and blogs over at What Katy Said, sharing tips to help other mums get more organised and make more time for themselves. Starting out as a way to help others, her award nominated blog has now become her full time career and she is regularly listed as one of the top 10 baby bloggers in the UK. Connect with her over on Twitter @WhatKatySaidUK.