Toddler discipline: 8 steps to control kid’s tantrums at parties

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — March 28, 2017
  • 1 / 9

    You know that your toddler has a fiery temper. Occasionally, she explodes into a rage when she doesn’t get her way, or when she gets overexcited playing with other children. That’s why you are worried about taking her to your friend’s party. It would be so embarrassing if she had a meltdown there.

    Here are steps on how you can avoid or defuse it before it gets out of hand.

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  • You are not alone
    2 / 9 You are not alone

    Your toddler isn’t the only one who gets irritable, restless and bad-tempered when she plays with her pals at a party. Although you probably think everyone else’s kids are better behaved than yours, chances are, their parents have the same fears as you.

    Related: Dealing with toddler tantrums: what you must know

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  • Get your message across
    3 / 9 Get your message across

    Since you know your little one has a temper and that she can lose control at a party, warn her in advance about your expectations of good behaviour. Tell her that you want her to keep control of her emotions.

    Give her a few reminders in the days before the party, and then again just as you arrive.

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  • Look for hot spots
    4 / 9 Look for hot spots

    By now, you will be aware of the situations that set her off more than others – perhaps, when she can’t get her way while playing with other children. Or maybe you see it coming when her cheeks get too red and she talks too excitedly. Try to calm and soothe her before her temper explodes.

    Related: Dealing with anger towards your toddler

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  • Learn to distract her
    5 / 9 Learn to distract her

    Sometimes, it is possible to tame a tantrum simply by distracting your tot for a few seconds. Keep a close watch on her during the party, and be ready to offer a cold drink or a small snack when necessary.

    Related: Toddler cries at toy shop: should you give in?

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  • Stay firm, follow through
    6 / 9 Stay firm, follow through

    Resist the temptation to give in to her demands just to calm her down. All it teaches her is that when you say “no”, you really mean: “No, but if you scream long enough, I’ll change my mind.”

    You’ll soon discover that you’re encouraging her to act up more frequently. That’s why it’s important to stand your ground.

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  • Remind her of what’s expected
    7 / 9 Remind her of what’s expected

    Once she is calm again – and that may take several minutes – sit with her, soothe her, cuddle her, give her a drink of water and talk to her.

    Tell her that you were very upset by her behaviour and that, the next time, you want her to try harder not to get so frustrated.

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  • Give her a timeout
    8 / 9 Give her a timeout

    As a last resort, if she has totally lost it, be prepared to either take her to another room or from the party altogether.

    There is no point in persisting to calm her down if your efforts have no positive impact. The other parents there will be entirely sympathetic.

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  • Encourage good behaviour
    9 / 9 Encourage good behaviour

    There will be times, of course, when she manages to cope without throwing a fit. When that happens, make a big fuss of her.

    Tell her how pleased you are that she kept calm and give her a special treat as a reward. This encourages her to keep her temper in check.


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