4 ways to avoid toddler tantrums before they start

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — December 07, 2017
  • She throws a tantrum when you refuse to buy what she wants.
    1 / 4 She throws a tantrum when you refuse to buy what she wants.

    You take your girl to the toy store as a special treat. She chooses one that you are happy with – and something else too.

    You say “no”, and she lies on the floor screaming.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO Tell her in advance that she can pick only one toy, which you must like as well. Tell her that if she misbehaves, she won’t get anything.

    If she becomes angry while at the store, remind her again. If she doesn’t calm down immediately, leave.

    Advance warning of punishment for misbehaviour lets her know what lies ahead, and gives her a chance to control her emotions.

    Related: 5 ways to discipline children without caning or hitting

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  • You ask her to tidy her toys but she wants to continue playing.
    2 / 4 You ask her to tidy her toys but she wants to continue playing.

    Your child is having so much fun that she deliberately ignores your request.

    Eventually, when you have lost all patience, you angrily remove her toy. She explodes with rage, determined to do what she wants.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO Give her a five-minute “tidy-up” warning, then a one-minute warning, then tell her it’s time to tidy her toys. With each warning, advise her to put at least one toy away.

    If she still refuses when time is up, hold your ground, don’t give in and ensure that she stops playing.

    Those early warnings help your child prepare emotionally for the impending change in her schedule.

    Related: Discipline toddler: 14 secrets only teachers know

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  • Her friend won’t share his book with her; they start fighting.
    3 / 4 Her friend won’t share his book with her; they start fighting.

    You know your toddler’s friend is in the wrong, but you don’t want your child to treat her guest this way.

    She won’t listen to reason, however. You now have two distressed, angry tykes.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO Set out rules for play dates clearly. Tell your daughter that she must share her toys, that she must never shout at or hit her guest, and that she should speak to you if she becomes unhappy.

    The moment you see your child getting agitated, remind her of the rules and resolve the disagreement before it escalates.

    Your two-year-old’s “I want” demands diminish when she understands that there are rules governing play dates.

    Related: Should you have fewer rules if you want an independent child?

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  • You refuse to let her have a snack before mealtime.
    4 / 4 You refuse to let her have a snack before mealtime.

    You are getting her dinner ready when she asks for a biscuit. It will affect her appetite so you refuse, but she becomes worked up.

    You get agitated and, soon, a screaming match ensues.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO Have a consistent policy about snacks between meals and follow it through. If they should only be eaten at set times, make that clear to your child.

    She’ll challenge this sometimes, but stick to your plan and she will learn.

    Your toddler thrives best when rules are applied consistently and clearly explained to her.

    Related: Mum or dad: Who should discipline the kids?

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