Advertisement

How can I stop my child’s temper tantrum before the meltdown?

Michele Borba
Psychology
Temper tantrums—those annoying kid wails and frails and meltdowns—are most common amongst toddlers eighteen to twenty-four. It’s one of the reasons those years are so “affectionately” called “the Terrible Twos.” Tantrums are equally as common in girls as in boys. But older kids sometimes resort back to the tantrum stage, especially if there’s been a recent stress or change in their lives or they’ve learned they work to get their way. While you can expect your little munchkin to have an “Exorcism” or two, how you respond to the outburst will largely determine whether they decrease or increase. Here are steps that will help stop annoying temper tantrums before the meltdowns.

Before the Tantrum

- Anticipate the meltdown. Your best defense is to anticipate a tantrum’s onset before the explosion. Don’t wait until your child is in full meltdown. Once a tantrum begins, you don’t have much control. So watch for your kid’s signs that a tantrum is on its way: tension, antsy, a whimper. Once you learn to identify your child’s “tantrum is approaching signs” you’re in the best place to defuse it.

- Distract and redirect. The second you know a tantrum is approaching, immediately try to redirect your child’s attention. “Let’s go get your teddy.” “I bet you can’t jump up and touch the sky!?” Or try distracting your little one: Look at that little boy over there.” Your best bet is to try to divert his attention long enough to reroute his energy. Do know the technique doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a stab.

- Use feeling words and calming methods. One of the biggest reasons toddlers use tantrums is due to frustrations. They simply don’t have the words to express their wants and needs, nor the maturity to gauge their emotions, so you’ll need to be their self-regulator at first. Try rubbing his back, holding him gently, or humming a relaxing song. Get down eye to eye, and talk in a soothing voice tone put your child’s feelings into words: “Oh, you look like you’re tired. Are you tired?” “It looks like I have a frustrated little boy. Are you frustrated?” Pose a question that your child can answer with a yes or no nod. Your calming tone along with your “Feeling Talk” might just help temper a pending explosion.
The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

More About this Book

The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

Today show's Michele Borba's cures for difficult childhood behaviors In this down-to-earth guide, parenting expert Michele Borba offers advice for dealing with children's difficult behavior and hot...

Continue Learning about Tantrums & Toddlers

How should I manage my child's temper tantrums?
Dr. Tanya R. Altmann, MDDr. Tanya R. Altmann, MD
The key to discipline is consistency. Remember, you are the parent. Temper tantrums can be challengi...
More Answers
What are some common triggers for toddlers’ temper tantrums?
Heather Wittenberg, PhDHeather Wittenberg, PhD
You certainly can’t prevent all tantrum triggers, all the time. But you can try to keep them in ...
More Answers
Why do toddlers have temper tantrums?
Heather Wittenberg, PhDHeather Wittenberg, PhD
Toddlers’ brain development is such that their ability to control their behavior, control and un...
More Answers
What Are Some Proven Techniques for Preventing Tantrums?
What Are Some Proven Techniques for Preventing Tantrums?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.