Parenting,  Toddlers

Toddler Tantrums: Causes, Cure, and Prevention

You took your 2 years old with you for grocery shopping and she started screaming, pushing, pulling, kicking and even throwing stuff just because you are not buying 10th pack of oreos. Sounds familiar?

This is an excellent display of a toddler tantrum, my friend.

What exactly is a toddler tantrum, by the way?

By definition, a tantrum is an emotional outburst of anger or frustration in the form of screaming, crying, pulling, pushing, and kicking. These emotional outbursts in the toddler years that is between one to three years of age are called toddler tantrums.

Though toddler tantrums are perfectly normal yet they are a nuisance and we want to prevent them or get rid of them as soon as possible.

toddler tantrums

So the question is what to do to prevent or handle a toddler tantrum, right?

Take a deep breath and relax first of all we are going to find the causes of a toddler tantrum.

Causes of Toddler Tantrums                                           

There are many triggers of toddler tantrums. The most common of those triggers are:

  • Unmet Mandatory Basic Needs

To be well fed, well slept, stress-free, and feeling safe are the basic needs of and any human being. If any of these mandatory basic needs are not fulfilled tantrums are bound to occur.

  • Your Toddler’s Feeling of Lack of Control

Parents or adults make almost all the decisions for their babies. Naturally, a baby becomes more and more independent by each passing day. Around 1 year of age the brain development is at such a stage that the baby needs to feel more in control. When that toddler is not provided with that needed feeling of being in control, toddler tantrums become frequent.

  • Lack of Social & Emotional Skills

In the toddler years, the social and emotional skills are still developing. Toddlers cannot fully make sense of their emotions and emotions of people around them. As a reaction, you may notice many more tantrums.

  • Underdeveloped Language Skills

As the language skills of toddlers are not fully developed, they struggle to communicate properly. This inability to convey their message properly makes them frustrated. Some tantrums stem out of this frustration.

  • Attention Seeking Behavior

Young kids live for the approval and attention of their parents. Generally, a bad behavior gets more attention than a good behavior. Therefore due to their desire to get attention toddlers to throw tantrums.

How To Prevent Toddler Tantrums

As they say, ‘prevention is better than cure’, preventing is way easier than handling a tantrum.

Let’s check out what we can do to prevent a toddler tantrum.

  • Know Your Child’s Tantrum Triggers

Every child is different and different things will bother differently to each child.

  1. Is the toddler tantrum due to what she wants to eat or wear?
  2. Is it due to lack of your attention?
  3. Is it because your child gets overwhelmed in new places or among new people?

By observing your child keenly you will know what triggers your child’s tantrum. Once you know what bothers your toddler the most, only then you can take effective measure to eliminate or minimize the trigger.

  • Ensure That The Basic Needs of Your Child Are Met

Being short on sleep and food makes everybody cranky even adults. Similarly feeling unsafe, unloved and unappreciated produce unwanted behaviors in humans. In order to prevent some of the very obvious toddler tantrums ensure that the basic needs of your toddler like; sleep, food, love, and safety are fully met.

  • Give a Lot of Appreciation to Positive Behavior

Your toddler craves for your appreciation and approval. Once you notice a good behavior and make a big deal out of it by appreciating and showing your happiness, your child will repeat that behavior to get this approval again.

Catch your child being good more often and try to ignore bad behavior as much as possible, within days you will see improvement in the behavior of your child.

Related article:

Why & how to catch your child being good

How to be a present parent

  • Give Choices Whenever Possible

Toddlers need to feel that they are in control of their life. Let them be a part of the decision-making process as much as you can. The simplest way to make them feel in control of their life is by giving choices.

Give your toddler two or three options to choose from regarding what they will like to eat, drink, wear, play and do. It’s most likely that your toddler will pick one thing out of the choices given and bam you nipped a possible tantrum in its bud.

  • Help Your Toddler In Expressing Emotions

Many times the inability to express their emotions is the cause of a toddler tantrum. Whenever your toddler is annoyed to help her express her emotions by giving words to her feelings. You will have to make some guesswork like what happened or what is bothering her but if you state different scenarios lovingly she will respond by choosing one of them. You will get an idea of what the actual issue is. When your toddler feels heard the likelihood of a tantrum will be close to zero.

Related article:

How to help kids to manage their emotions

How to Handle an Ongoing Toddler Tantrum

Finally, here it comes! fasten your seatbelts, please.

When your toddler is within a full-blown tantrum then the following steps are helpful in letting the storm pass peacefully.

  • Stay Calm

This is the most important and the most difficult factor in handling a tantrum successfully. You must remember that when a toddler is in the middle of a tantrum it’s almost impossible for her to control her emotions and calm down. Your child is struggling and if you will throw your own tantrum to the mix the situation will head to the worse.

Your job as a responsible parent is to stay calm and ensure that your child and people around her are safe.

Related article:

How to be patient with kids

  • Distract

Generally, toddlers have a short attention span. If the tantrum has just begun or is relatively mild you can distract your child to something else which interests her. Once the attention has diverted the tantrum will either end or will be of milder intensity.

One of the most effective methods of distracting a toddler, from a tantrum, is by changing her environment. If your toddler is throwing a tantrum in gathering or a crowded place then taking her outside or to another room will calm her down a lot.

  • Validate Your Child’s Feelings

As your toddler might be unable to fully communicate her point of view, it’s your job to give words to your child’s feeling. Something like, ‘I know you are mad because you don’t want to share your toy but you are not supposed to hit your sister for playing with your car’, is effective in making your toddler feel heard.

When your toddler feels heard and understood the tantrum will begin to dissipate.

  • Simply Ignore

At times your child is seeking attention through bad behavior. In that case, try distracting the child. If the distraction works then give a lot of attention after the tantrum is over. If nothing works then simply ignore the tantrum, it will pass on its own, believe me.

What To Do After Toddler Tantrums

So, the storm is over (sigh).

I have another good news, should I bring it on?

That irritating toddler tantrum can also be a very good learning opportunity for you and your toddler. Here’s what you can do after (doesn’t mean right after) a toddler tantrum.

  • Talk About The Tantrum

Once your toddler is calm and attentive talk about that tantrum. Use age-appropriate language. Touch your child, make eye contact and talk lovingly about what happened. You will get an insight into the mind of the child by getting the answers to questions like:

  1. What did your child feel?
  2. What she doesn’t like?
  3. What are her tantrum triggers?
  4. What you can do to prevent similar tantrums in the future?

Related article:

How to talk so that your child will listen

How to teach your kids anything through conversations

  • Praise The Positives

The more you will focus on the positives the more they will grow. Praise something your child did during the tantrum which was positive.

For example, if your toddler hits usually but she didn’t during her tantrum you can say something like, ‘You were really mad at your sister but you didn’t her. I am so proud of you’.

If there was nothing to praise you may say something like, “I like the way you tried to control yourself”.

  • Give Guidance For Future

You may give your toddler some tips for what she can do if a similar situation arises in the future.


Toddler tantrums are normal in the toddler years i.e between 1 to 3years of age. Toddler tantrums occur because of your toddler’s underdeveloped emotional, social and language skills. If the basic needs of your child are unmet or she is feeling that she is not in control of her life then you can also expect a definite tantrum.

You may take a few steps to prevent and handle a toddler tantrum. Knowing your child’s tantrum triggers, fulfilling her basic needs, helping her express her feelings, giving her choices and praising positive behaviors are helpful in preventing a toddler tantrum.

In order to handle an ongoing toddler tantrum staying calm, validating your child’s feelings, distracting the child or simply ignoring the tantrum, help a lot.

You can make your child’s tantrum as a very good learning opportunity by talking about the tantrum after your child has calmed down. Praising positives from the toddler tantrum and giving a guideline for similar situations in future make a negative experience a learning opportunity.

Related article:

How to stop toddler hitting






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