The other day I was sitting in my car in the garage as Leyton had a 45 minute toddler tantrum melt down. I asked you guys for your advice on how you handle your toddler’s meltdown, and like always, you delivered. My Instagram DM’s were FLOODED with all of your mama advice on what you find works best in handling a toddler tantrum situation which is why I knew I had to make a full blog post about this!
When they say it takes a village to raise a child, they were NOT kidding. When you’re at the mall or at church and a toddler tantrum strikes, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and alone! Thankfully, I have all of you as my village to help me out when it comes to situations like these. We are definitely not alone in this and that is why I want to share the advice you shared with me with everyone else.
How to Deal with Toddler Tantrums:
Leave them alone in a safe space: Many of you suggested placing your toddler in a safe quiet place for small chunks at a time. I couldn’t agree more with this. I always tell Leyton that he can stay in his room or in the corner or whatever makes sense at that time until he’s done and I’ll be happy to talk to him then. This way I don’t give attention to it and thus encourage the behavior. He’s gotten where a lot of times now when he does have a complete “act a fool” meltdown, he’ll all of a sudden say, “I all done, Mommy.” and then we talk about it and move on. So wild how those words come out after 20 mins+ sometimes of snotty, red-faced crying. Bless him and bless us. The hardest part is when you aren’t at home…
“We leave him alone in a safe place for small chunks at a time. When I check on him I say, “What do you need?” I usually ask if he would like a tissue or a drink… Now, at five and a half he is pretty good at identifying and verbalizing what he needs. Once he’s calm we talk about ways that he could have solved his problem rather than by crying/shouting/etc.” @katelynatownsend
“I found if I try to get him to calm down, we both got more frustrated. I leave him in his room and he can come out when he calms down and he will eventually.” @elizabethwrena
“We would calmly place the girls in another room and say, ‘we don’t act like that and did not want to hear that’. They were only allowed to get up when they were done (even if we had to put them back 100 times).” @kristen.harris13
“I have found, especially if it’s a situation where there are a lot of people or chaos, to get sit in his room and rock him for about 15 minutes or to set him in his bed with his lights on so he knows it’s not bedtime… He cries for a second at first but then calms down and I just talk to him. Their beds are their safe place.” @ash_john_3511
“I always use the ‘You need to go sit in your room until you can settle down.’ He usually goes in there for about 30 seconds and then comes out and says “I’m not crying now, Mama” and the we have a talk. I don’t make it a time out/punishment thing, unless he has really done something wrong. But when he’s just whining or throwing a fit over nothing this usually works!” @annekeshaw
A few others also stressed how important it is to solve his problem later when he is calmed down rather than by crying and shouting. This helps both the parents and the child stay calm. Later once he is calm, we can talk about how to better handle our emotions and express ourselves.
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Asking them to breathe: This is such a simple one and one that is easy to forget!
“When my 3 year old daughter has a melt down, I sit on the floor and hold her and remind her to breath. Often times she gets so upset crying that when I ask her what is wrong she cannot tell me. Apparently she appreciates it, because when I start to get upset, she says “Mama Breather.” @symathahughes
Once they are calm you can help them to start expressing their feelings and why they are upset. “Whenever Breyer gets upset about something, I always go to her and ask what’s making her upset..i’ll kneel down to her and try to be really interested in why she’s sad. As she starts explaining herself, she stops crying because she’s trying to tell me what’s wrong.” @kortnibird
Singing a song: Many of you suggested singing a song like one of the Daniel Tiger songs, “we sing alll the time to our son to help him understand we can voice our frustrations instead of just screaming.” @maggieswelch_
“If we are out I’ll just sit in the car and play calming music… I also sing alot of the Daniel Tiger songs like, ‘When you’re mad and you’re gonna roar, stomp your feet, and count to four’. Daniel Tiger really helps with emotion management in toddlers.” @thrivinginmotherhood
“We use Daniel Tiger songs too! We’re really working on using our words when he’s mad. So every time he got mad for a week or so we’d say, ‘Okay, how are you feeling right now? Tell mommy what you’re feeling so we can help! Are you mad or frustrated?’ And then we talk about taking deep breaths.” @meaghanshelton
“Tight tight hugs and whispering in their ears- which they can’t hear so they usually stop crying so they can hear what I’m saying. Sometimes the whispers are singing a song to them.” @janajp14
Calming bubbles: This one takes a little prep but is a great one to keep on hand when you’re not at home and need something simple to help them settle down a little bit, “Our therapist suggested blowing bubbles and that quickly de-escalated the situation when the typical alone time wouldn’t work.” @kristyjenn
“My 3 year old daughter and I have been struggling with the same thing for months. The other day it lasted over an hour. She knows how to calm down but she just refuses sometimes. I finally bought bubble calming bottles yesterday and am praying that they work miracles.” @melissajoygreen
Resources: Some of you also suggested some books for more information on this and I have listed them below!
“The book The Child Whispered is a great book. Helps you understand how they are wired and what discipline is best for them. I refer ALL my friends to that book first thing” @nsaldy
“Read Becky Bailey’s book ‘Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline‘ Check out @consciousdiscipline, too! Great information! I use it as a parent and an early childhood special ed teacher, every day!” @smilingforthejoyofothers
“We deal with these a lot. We worked with a therapist who taught us Active Listening as a part of Effective Parenting Techniques. Google and see if detailed information comes up. It has been gold for helping manage both of our toddlers.” @strengthgracelif
Photos: K. Olis Photography (For the record, I am laughing here because of how ridiculous Leyton is being about taking pictures. He’s saying “no” and being a toddler…shocker, I know! 😉
Other amazing toddler tantrum advice:
“Time outs most of the time and I tell them Jesus sees all, both have been working so far.” @nataliyasheremet_solodka
“One of my sweet friends reminded me that during a tantrum there should only be one person not in control and that person is not the parent. Stay calm and talk them through it, and teach them self-control which is a fruit of the spirit. @katyamyers
“Girl, just attend and ignore. The fuel to the meltdown drama can either be internal or external and at that age they cannot communicate well enough to let you know, so attend. Make sure that they are safe and nothing is hurting/wrong and ignore. Don’t reward that bad behavior or give them attention they do not deserve. However, when you are attending, make sure you have not missed their verbal or non verbal cue to leave a situation.” @rpbarton40
“When my daughter, who is almost 5, freaks out I ask her to help me find different colors around the room. I’ll just say, ‘Can you help me find the color blue?’ and she just stops and finds whatever color I’ve said and we just continue to do that. It works like a charm! She likes tasks and it’s something fun that’s not a reward but gets her mind off of whatever she was upset about.” @scrosswog
“For my 2.5 year old I usually offer him a bath and he almost always stops crying and runs to the bath. I kind of let him sit in there ‘alone’ and once he gets out from under the faucet I know he’s collected himself and I’ll go back in and chat with him.” @bigskyfarmher
“We do time out and I try my best to “ignore” the tantrum part and tell her when she has calmed down we can have a talk. Then we talk about what’s going on. He may still be a little young for it but it has worked wonders for Amryn (and myself). Then it helps me get a sense of the ridiculousness that sets her off from her point of view so to speak. From my point of view, she cray cray most of the time” @cyndipoore
“Kids are all so different. With my daughter saying she needs to go sit and calm down works amazing. My son is more like yours and will go on for 45+ minutes, he’s 5. I am learning he needs a hug to calm down and I will usually hold him and talk it through a bit. He needs to feel that I hear his words, he gets so frustrated if he doesn’t feel like i’m hearing his words.” @nicolefoss
“Sometimes we have to make the decision to quit battling the ‘will’ and embrace them knowing they are just having a hard time/bad day. Trying to teach and discipline while tension is high generally leads to bigger fits. Wait until the storm passes and then address the issue later.” @jackic29
” I know for Grayson that I can’t ask him questions because I will get a ‘no’ every time. Even if it’s asking him if he wants a lollipop. I usually address him and tell him I recognize that he’s upset and I want to help him get better. Again, that usually doesn’t change anything but honestly the most effective thing I do if he’s super worked up is hold him tight and my arms and just pray with him. I just ask the Lord to calm whatever is going on in his heart and he usually settles down.” @ashelsbyhill
One thing to note that I read often in your replies, is that every child is different. Just like adults, children have different coping mechanisms and distinct personalities which is why handling meltdowns can be a frustrating process. I’m still finding what works best for us and it’s okay if you are too! This is why I am so thankful that you are all sharing your experiences with me on and helping me along the way. What toddler tantrum advice did we miss? I’d LOVE to hear your experiences of your worst toddler tantrum or best advice in the comments below! Make sure to keep connected with me on my Instagram as I am always looking to hear more from you!
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