The Top Three Kids’ Tantrums And How To Prevent Them!

prevent kids tantrums
Maximus Escouri
Kids tantrums

Children throwing a tantrum become angry and stressed. They can scream, cry, kick, punch, break things or run away. Tantrums are distressing for the child, their parents and other people who happened to be around the child during an episode.

Why Tantrums Happen?

Tantrums are common in children between 1 to 3 years old. At this age, your child is starting to develop a sense of being a separate individual with their own power.  They will test the limits of this power by frequently saying ‘No’ or grabbing what they want. Your child is still too young to process their feelings or to control their emotions. They also lack the words to express how they feel. A tantrum may be unpleasant but is an outlet for them. 

Tantrums are not exclusive to toddlers. Older children, teenagers and our spouses can also throw tantrums. But in this article, we are focusing on toddler tantrums.

According to the parenting website – Raisingchildren.net.com.au – factors that can cause tantrums include:

  • Stress, hunger, overstimulation and tiredness.

  • Overwhelming emotions like fear, confusion, shame and anger.

  • Situations that are difficult for the child to cope or process for example when a toy is forcibly removed.

  • Temperament – a child who is easily upset is more likely to throw a tantrum.

How To Prevent A Tantrum?

We asked our parents for their top three tantrum nightmare experiences and the group consensus were mealtime tantrums, grocery shopping tantrums and bedtime tantrums.  

prevent kids tantrums

Here is some expert advice on how to prevent tantrums:

Does this sound familiar to you?  Your normally agreeable 2-year old has decided she doesn’t want to eat her meal. You’ve cooked her favourite mac n cheese, but she keeps pushing the spoon away when you try to feed her. You give her the spoon and tell her, she’s a big girl and can feed herself but she plays with the food instead.  You are frustrated. You pick up the spoon to try and feed her again. She pushes the spoon away. You get angry. She gets upset. She starts squirming and crying. The situation worsens and turns into a full-blown tantrum…

Remove triggers:

healthy snack

Tiredness and over-stimulation even being too hungry, can trigger tantrums. Keep important activities like mealtimes and bedtime to a routine. Routines can help children understand time management and establish good habits. Simple things like a warm bath and story time can help children to relax before sleep. They are fun activities that your toddler will be looking forward to. 

Healthy snacks like fresh fruit and vegetable sticks are good for keeping tummies full between meals. They are also effective in preventing mealtime meltdowns.

Be prepared:

girl sleeping

Toddlers do not have a long attention span. They are not very patient either. If you like traditional rituals like ‘sitting down at the table together for a meal’ then get all your toddler’s meal prepared and ready to serve before you seat him or her down. 

If your child has difficulty falling asleep, try investing in some blackout curtains, a weighted blanket, essential oils and soothing music to help them relax and calm down. If you are using essential oils, try sprays or child-safe diffusers instead of applying these oils directly onto sensitive skin.

Give your child a choice:

Put different foods on the plate and let your toddler pick what they want to eat. Your two-year-old will be happier to lie quietly in bed if you let him or her choose what pyjamas to wear or what book to read to them for their bedtime story. 

Set rules:

set rules for kid

Mealtime and bedtime rules are important. Even one-year old’s can be taught to sample every piece of food on their plates and to learn simple manners like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  

Here is a simple rule to teach your toddler ‘If you scream or kick at the table, you will be excused’. Or ‘I will count to three for you to stop.’ Be clear with your child about mealtime and bedtime ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’. Reinforce these rules regularly and reward your child if they abide by the rules.

Try distraction:

Taking their focus away from their problem can help diffuse a tantrum. If you are taking your toddler to the supermarket, go prepared. Pack their bag with some healthy snacks, a favourite toy or a picture book so they do not become too bored with shopping. When they are bored, they will want your attention. If you don’t give it to them, they will throw a tantrum. 

If your two-year-old is refusing to eat his or her dinner and is on the cusp of a tantrum, try diffusing the situation by telling a funny story or singing a song. You will be surprised how easy it is to distract your child and prevent a tantrum. 

Diffuse the situation:

If a tantrum has started, removing the child or yourself, from the situation can diffuse it. It is impossible to reason with a screaming two-year-old. If your toddler is crying and won’t sit still on the supermarket trolley, pick them up. Calm them down before you continue shopping.  

If your toddler is having a tantrum at the dinner table, take a deep breath and walk away for a minute or so. The tantrum is usually for your benefit. If you don’t react to it, your child may decide it’s not worth it and give up.  

Don’t stress:

Dont stress

Missing a meal occasionally is not harmful to the child. If the tantrum becomes unmanageable, abandon the attempt to force-feed. Supplement this with their favourite bottle before bedtime instead.

Don’t lose your cool:

Be firm. Stay calm. If you lose your temper, your child will pick up the tension and it will only worsen the situation. 

Don’t be too harsh with punishment:

If you want to punish your child for misbehaving, make sure that the punishment reflects the conduct. Don’t be too harsh with the punishment. Once you’ve set the boundary, stick to it. For example, if you are imposing a ‘time-out’ then make sure your toddler sits out his or her punishment. Don’t cave in just because you feel sorry for them.

Be realistic:

You know your child better than anyone else. How you react depends on your child and the situation. Step back and consider the situation. Try to identify why they are upset. Maybe they are tired or hungry. A hug and a kiss can help diffuse the situation and prevent a tantrum.

Appreciate the good times:

Acknowledge and appreciate the times that your child is obedient. Reward them for their good behaviour. Tell them you are proud of them for not throwing a temper tantrum. Positive reinforcement is better than punishment and goes a long way in developing their self-confidence.   

Appreciate the good times with kids

Key Points To Remember:

  • Tantrums are a part of growing up.

  • For young children, tantrums are a way to deal with big emotions.

  • Reducing tantrum triggers can minimise the frequency of tantrums.

  • Before you lose your cool, take a minute to consider if your child is upset because he or she is hungry, tired or over-stimulated.

  • Staying calm and being firm can diffuse the situation.

  • Always reward your child for good behaviour. You don’t have to bribe them with toys. A kiss and a cuddle are enough.


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