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How To Navigate Toddler Tantrums Without Yelling?

How To Navigate Toddler Tantrums Without Yelling

You may have noticed toddlers yelling, screaming, crying, rolling on the floor, or displaying drastic behaviors. These are emotional outbursts that happen because of unmet needs or wants, which we call temper tantrums. It is mostly seen in children between the ages of 1 and 4, but tstemper tantrums are also seen among some older children. Even though preschoolers can voice their needs or opinions, the pressure of handling big emotions can sometimes take a toll, leaving them feeling distraught and resorting to throwing tantrums.

How Do You Recognize a Tantrum? 

Screaming, shouting, and crying are common tactics. However, children can be innovative when they are seeking attention. Here are some noticeable symptoms: 

  • Whining or speaking indistinctly 

  • Shouting or refusing to talk 

  • Talking back or arguing with a caregiver 

  • Being physically aggressive 

  • Breaking or throwing objects 

  • Tearing books or clothes 

  • Rolling on the floor while screaming or crying 

  • Trying to pick a fight with a sibling or friend 

  • Threatening to hurt themselves or actually hurting themselves 

  • Pretending to be unwell or genuinely falling sick due to the emotional drain 


What Causes Toddlers to Throw Tantrums? 

Although parental guilt often makes us think that tantrums are reflective of poor parenting or the child being a spoilt brat, these judgments are far from the truth. Usually, the reasons for a temper tantrum are triggered by some genuine need. Young children are still learning to identify their emotions and handle them appropriately. Managing big emotions can sometimes be a daunting task for adults, so it is only fair to give children the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s look at some common causes for breakdowns: 

  • Communication Gap: The inability to communicate their needs can be a challenge for toddlers. With their vocabulary and articulation abilities still developing, frustration can build up quickly. Often, they feel that parents or caregivers do not understand them, and this gap can trigger emotional outbursts. 

  • Seeking Attention: Toddlers need a lot of love and attention, particularly from their primary caregivers. When they feel ignored or that someone else is receiving more, the feeling of separation kicks in, causing panic. Therefore, their natural response is to do something to regain attention.  

  • Unmet Wants: In their curiosity to explore the world around them, children have many wants. It could be a new toy, treat, book, food, pet, or anything. Caregivers cannot always indulge them, and this can cause discontent. While a caregiver’s methods of communication can also make a difference here, taking no for an answer can be challenging at a young age. 

  • Hunger and Fatigue: Most toddlers are still not in tune with their physical needs. They may not recognize or know how to communicate that they are hungry, and this can cause discomfort, leading to crying spells. Feeling tired or sleepy is another challenge. Children usually never know when their bodies need rest. They tend to over exhaust themselves, leading to crankiness and difficulty falling asleep. 

  • Neglect and Abuse: When children are not being raised in an affectionate environment, it is common for them to display disruptive behaviors. Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse can traumatize them, leading to various behavioral disorders or adverse reactions. Neglect and abandonment can also trigger strong feelings, impacting their understanding of relationships. 

  • Trauma: Children who have endured an ugly divorce between their parents, been subject to custody battles, experienced the death of a parent, been through an accident, or faced any untoward circumstances may show symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. Their impressionable minds can be affected by such experiences. 

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): This is a real psychosomatic disorder that causes the child to be anxious, constantly nervous, and unable to focus. If parents do not recognize or understand the severity of this condition, conflicts may arise, leading the child to respond with tantrums.


How to Calm Your Toddler When They Throw Tantrums?

Temper tantrums, especially those of toddlers, can seem very unpredictable and can occur without warning. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of these outbursts and handle them effectively: 

  • Be a Good Role Model: Children are constantly observing us, and whether they follow what we say or not, they imitate our behavior. If caregivers are calm and composed, respond rather than react, speak softly rather than yell, children are likely to follow the same.  

  • Avoid Common Triggers: Parenting can be challenging, but it is essential to understand your child’s needs and patterns to plan around them. If you know that your child is likely to throw a fit when they get tired, fix a bedtime routine, and ensure they take their naps to avoid the situation. Toddlers are most comfortable when their days are organized. They start to recognize transitions during the day and that sense of control can be comforting.  

  • Teach Them to Express: When adults have conversations with children, it dramatically changes how they react. For instance, teach children to voice their feelings, “I am hungry,” “I am not feeling well,” etc. Children respond better when they feel that caregivers are invested in their well-being and genuinely want what’s best for them. 

  • Let Them Be Angry: Everyone must vent, and if your child is non-destructive, let them express their anger. Once their feelings are let out, they usually find a way to busy themselves with the next activity. Additionally, this teaches them self-control and independence. 

  • Pick Your Battles: Parenting can seem like a constant tug-of-war. You don’t have to impose yourself each time, but you also don’t have to give in each time. Let your child have their way in some instances while maintaining the balance. 

  • Distraction: Children tend to have a short attention span, so make clever use of it. If they are upset that you are not indulging their request, quickly shift focus to something else that they might like. For example, if your child wants to play longer at the playground, and you need them to come home, ask them if they would like a chocolate after dinner or offer a few extra minutes of watching their favorite show. 

  • Cuddling: Sometimes a good dose of love and affection can do the trick. Especially if your child just wants attention, giving them a tight hug and showing them how much you care is all they need. 

  • Treat Them as Adults: Playing grown-up is every child’s preferred game. If you are out grocery shopping and you notice that your child is ready to have a meltdown, quickly enlist their help. Ask them to help you push the shopping cart or tick off the list of items bought from your checklist. When they feel like they are contributing and are being treated as adults, they are likely to behave like one.  

  • Ride It Out: Public outbursts can be embarrassing, but don’t let it get to you. Most parents have been in your shoes, and it is not a reflection of your parenting abilities. If nothing works, let your child continue with their tantrum. Children are bound to tire and move on themselves. If you’d like to address the issue, make sure you wait a while until your child is in a happy mood to talk about this.

How to Avoid Temper Tantrums?

Avoiding temper tantrums in children involves a combination of preventive measures and effective strategies for managing and de-escalating challenging behaviors. Here are some tips: 

  • Establish Clear Expectations: Set clear and age-appropriate expectations for behavior and routines. Consistency is key in reinforcing these expectations. 

  • Provide Positive Attention: Offer plenty of positive attention and praise for good behavior. Children often seek attention, so providing positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviors can help reduce the likelihood of tantrums. 

  • Offer Choices: Give children choices within limits to provide them with a sense of control. This can help prevent power struggles and reduce frustration. 

  • Maintain Routines: Stick to regular routines for meals, naps, and bedtime. Predictable routines help children feel secure and reduce anxiety, decreasing the likelihood of tantrums. 

  • Teach Coping Skills: Teach children age-appropriate coping skills for managing emotions, such as taking deep breaths, counting to ten, or using a calm-down corner. 


When To Seek Help?

If you have tried everything, and your child is still inconsolable or regularly throwing temper tantrums, you could try consulting a healthcare provider. Check for the following to see if a visit to the pediatrician is in order:  

  • Temper tantrums persist or increase after age 4. 

  • The child is prone to self-injury or hurting others. 

  • Holding their breath during a tantrum. 

  • Tantrums leading to headaches, stomach upset, vomiting, or other physical symptoms. 


Dealing with toddler tantrums calmly can make all the difference in early child development as children tend to mirror adult behavior. While tips and tricks can help, caregivers must use their intuition to help their children navigate big emotions and offer support when necessary. These learning experiences can be invaluable contributors in personality development. 

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