Survive the Toddler Years – Tantrums, Tolerance and Tough Love

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They are called the “terrible twos” for a reason. As your child makes the transition from baby to toddler, you may begin to wonder what happened to your sweet little baby and who is this monster that has replaced her. Before you start looking up contact information for local exorcists, rest assured that temper tantrums are a normal part of development for your toddler. As he or she starts to take those first steps towards independence, your toddler might use temper tantrums to try to communicate his or her frustration. Due to a lack of maturity and limited communication skills, temper tantrums are one of the ways that your toddler can be sure to get your attention when words fail him or her. Here are a few tips for dealing with this trying time in your child’s life.


At this age, children want what they want when they want it. They do not understand if you are busy or if said activity is dangerous. Your toddler only knows that he or she is being kept from the object of his or her desire. If your child is starting to edge into temper tantrum mode, one way you can deal with this is to redirect him or her towards another object or activity. Toddlers have short attention spans. If you make another object or activity more appealing, your child will likely refocus his attention on that, forgetting about the temper tantrum all together.

Don’t Reward Negative Behavior

If you respond to every temper tantrum, even to reprimand your child, you are teaching him that throwing a temper tantrum earns attention. Enforce more positive patterns of behavior by rewarding your child with attention when he or she acts in positive ways rather than negative. Once you make sure your child is safe and not liable to injure themselves, inform them that you will talk when they are calmer and let the tantrum play out. Eventually, your child will understand that temper tantrums are not an effective tool for communication and modify his or her behavior.

Meet Their Needs

With limited communication skills, a toddler can’t tell you when she is hungry or tired. Their only avenue for expression is to have a meltdown, usually at the most inconvenient time. If you notice that your child is getting worked up, ask yourself if he or she may be hungry, thirsty or simply need a nap. Usually, if you resolve what the unmet need is, you can nip a temper tantrum in the bud.

Have Patience

Unfortunately, no matter what strategies you employ, temper tantrums are a fact of life for the parents of a toddler. While it might not seem so while your toddler is in the throes of a tantrum, they are a good sign that your child is developing properly and showing the right signs of independence. If you find yourself frustrated and at your wits end due to frequent tantrums, you should find a way to take a break so that you can recharge your patience and come back in with a positive attitude.

Having help during the toddler years can go a long way towards helping you keep your sanity. Find the right nanny for your family at

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  1. We have entered the “terrible twos”. It certainly can be a bit stressful at times. I think that not rewarding negative behavior is huge. (At least for me…) I know that if I “give in” she’ll remember and then next time will whine and scream for even longer. It’s tough though.

    If you’re interested, I’d love if you’d link up at my Teaching Time for Toddlers post.

  2. Ashley says:

    These are very effective tips! You should definitely not reward negative behavior or else your child will grow up and think that in any relationship if they throw a tantrum that the other person will listen. And I completely agree that children at that age cannot communicate their needs so us as the adult have to watch for signs. Great post!

  3. It’s so remarkably easy to fall into the trap of reinforcing and rewarding negative behaviours. Sometimes when tantrums get thrown into the mix it is ever-so-tempting to just cave in, in exchange for some short-term silence. As we all know, however, that isn’t the right way to go about things.

    You’ve dished up some great and easy-to-apply advice here, Farrukh!

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