5 Steps to Surviving Toddler Tantrums

My son has some real doozies when it comes to tantrums. I’ve never been around kids much, so dealing with this is WAY out of my comfort zone and I have no idea what I’m doing. Sometimes I get so frustrated I want to have my own tantrum. I recently turned to Google in a desperate attempt to find out if there was anything I could be doing differently. Every article pretty much had the same old crap – distract them, take them outside and away from the situation, get creative with art, hug them or give them your undivided attention, etc.

I felt like most of the people writing these articles never actually dealt with a Level 11 tantrum and they all just found the same article and rehashed it in their own words. I found the same tips, word for word, cited in several articles.

Distract them! Sure…but are you going to tell me how to distract a screaming slobbering tiny maniac? Take them outside! OK, I’ll let you be the one to try and wrestle the Tasmanian Devil child who does NOT want to be picked up and moved. Give them your undivided attention! Oh? Because 7AM to 8PM is not quite enough of my attention? That must be it. Must be my fault he just flipped out over the fact I put milk in the wrong sippy cup. So I’ve tried hugs, soothing words, reasoning, bargaining, time-out…none of it works. It’s like a switch has flipped and he’s just on auto-tantrum.

So how do I get through these trying moments for real?

1) Leave the room ASAP. This is only a good idea if you are somewhere you can actually do that, like at home. I just up and run out of the room sometimes because I totally think steam is about to come out of my ears, or I’m about to get all angry and start yelling which never really helps. I need to calm the hulk back down and the only way to do that is to run away for a moment.

2) Use earplugs or anything that will muffle the noise. I find my Cozyphones come in handy for this. I actually put soothing “spa music” on my iPhone and have that playing to help cover the screaming and crying.

3) Stage a dramatic distraction. That suggestion kept popping up and is one I actually use often. I usually go to this one after I’ve cooled off for a moment. Then it’s “Showtime!” Big smile, happy super excited voice, and things like “WOW What’s that? Did you see that? Let go see it!!!” While pointing outside at nothing. Or “Did you hear that noise? What’s that? Is it a dragon? We should go hunt and see!” Sometimes that will snap him out of it or at least get the wailing down to a sniffle. This one is most effective if they will let you pick them up, so put it to use after the flailing and kicking subsides.

4) Play with something new or interesting without saying anything, close enough for them to see. Sometimes I’ll pull out something like slime or a toy he hasn’t seen for a while. He will see me and get curious. I don’t say anything until he asks me what I have.

5) Let it run its course. In other words, do numbers 1 and 2 and then employ number 3 when you sense things are winding down. Because sometimes there’s just NOTHING that helps except giving them time to get it out. My son will scream until he starts choking and gagging sometimes. And while it seems like it lasts an hour, the longest is maybe 15-20 minutes at full blast.

And here’s the one thing that helps me get through quite often – Just keep reminding yourself they won’t be toddlers forever. If you can hang in there, it gets better. I feel like the tantrums lessened every few months. Now at just over three, the tantrums are pretty spaced out and not as intense. They say time heals all wounds, but it also does a good job with tantrums.

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4 thoughts on “5 Steps to Surviving Toddler Tantrums

  1. I”m not sure there is one way to deal with a tantrum. I think it is a moment to moment thing. but there needs to still be consistency (yes I just walked out of both sides of my mouth). the consistency needs to come from the end. how you resolve and move forward after the tantrum

  2. I read a while back that kids arent in their right mind when they throw legit tantrums. Like, you cannot reason because that part of their brain is switched off and the only thing you really can do is ignore it until it calms down on it’s own. That’s what I do and it works better. When I’m dealing with a level 1- she wants something she cant have, I give a threat of a punishment, look her in the eyes, explain the options, let her choose and it works.
    Today we took her to her first movie. She wanted to do something (she was with my mom and I had the older daughter). She started yelling and crying so I told her we would go sit in the car and started to take her out of the theater. She said she wanted to see the movie so I told her no crying or fussing, she was to behave or we’d sit in the car. She happily sat on my lap eating popcorn quietly through the whole movie- was better behaved than a few other kids. It’s all about reading what type of tantrum and learning how to adjust.

    1. I read that as well and have seen it in action. When it’s at full blown crazy level…he just checks out and gets replaced by a screaming demon child. There’s just nothing you can do but try to get through it.

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