How to Stop a Toddler Tantrum

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Perhaps the most infuriating stage of parenthood is when your child reaches the time when tantrums seem to be his only means of expression. In the "terrible twos" - or threes, fours and beyond - these full-on freakouts might happen seemingly at the drop of a hat, but there are ways to deal with them and even prevent them before they happen. First, note your child's "triggers" - hunger, pain and exhaustion can make intelligent adults gibbering idiots, so imagine how your child, whose means of communication are limited at best, is affected when faced with adversity. Some meltdowns can be prevented simply by avoiding activities like running errands, eating at a restaurant or simply being overstimulated when it's meal or naptime. Save that grocery store trip until after nap if you can; likewise, that playdate can wait until after lunch, right? A major tantrum trigger is the fact that while young children might understand language, they still lack the skills to communicate effectively themselves. So frustration mounts when the child can't make his or her needs known, and an explosion ensues. Look for cues that the child is getting frustrated - hitting, whining, grumbling, pouting, etc. - and address the child's concerns.