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Lena Engel
Worked as an Ofsted Early Years Inspector for Kensington and Chelsea Borough. Supported teachers in schools to improve outcomes for children’s learning, and written for Nursery World Magazine. She trains, assesses and mentors early years practitioners, and offers advice and guidance to parents.
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Stage 6 – preschool

Toddler tantrums

Positive parenting techniques can be a powerful and calm strategy to help prevent toddler tantrums.
In Short

Good positive parenting strategies to help toddlers avoid, or cope with, a tantrum include:

Always talking about what you have planned long before you do it.

Encourage toddlers to make choices about how much they want to eat.

Always give toddlers easy choices from only two options. Don't overwhelm them with choices.

Praise toddlers when they do something right.

Try to discuss rather than punish unwanted behaviour.

Parents often feel driven to their wits’ end by toddlers who behave unpredictably and lose control of themselves in a fit of temper. These episodes are commonly called temper tantrums and they usually cause a great deal of emotional distress to everyone involved. As parents are the adults in the relationship, they have to take responsobility for avoiding these stressful confrontations.

Why do toddlers have tantrums?

Usually, toddlers tantrum because they feel frustrated that they cannot do what they want or express what they feel. When adults understand how children experience these emotions, they can begin to find ways to tackle the problem.

Eight Top tips and simple solutions to prevent and manage tantrums

Here are some simple solutions that can make a huge difference to your toddler. The over-riding message is to try to get toddlers to do things for themselves:

  • When you want your toddler to wipe his face after eating, give him a warm damp cloth and let him use the cloth himself.
  • Always get down to his level and talk quietly when you give instructions or what your toddler to do something specific.
  • Similarly, if you are planning a walk to the park, make sure that you have everything placed within easy reach so that your toddler can fetch his own boots, coats and hats.
  • Always talk about what you have planned long before you do it so that your toddler has time to think about what you are going to do together and encourage him to participate in this planning, coming up with ideas about what you might need to do.
  • Encourage your toddler to make choices about how much he wants to eat at the dinner table. This can be done by suggesting that they help themselves from a central platter instead of dishing them up a plate of food. Make eating a social occasion so that your toddler doesn’t feel like the centre of attention. Respect his signs of fullness.
  • Always give your toddler the opportunity to make choices from only two options, e.g., you can wear the yellow or the blue t-shirt, which one to you want to wear? By making simple decisions for himself he is learning to be empowered and to feel proud about making a choice.
  • Make changing nappies, learning to use the potty or bath time fun by asking him to fetch nappies and creams, or the potty, or his pyjamas. Toddlers love the sense of achievement of being independent and following simple instructions.
  • Most important of all praise your toddler when he does something right and try not to lose your temper when he does something you do not like. In fact, try to ignore or discuss unwanted behaviour.

There are many toddlers and children who do not have temper tantrums at all because they communicate their needs and have some control over what they want to do. So it is not necessarily a phase that all toddlers will go through! Be patient and take the time to understand what it feels like from their point of view.

If you would like to contact Lena for one-on-one advice for children aged 0 – 19 years, please email her on Lenahelpsparents@gmail.com.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.