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How to Handle and Prevent Toddler Tantrums

How to Handle and Prevent Toddler Tantrums

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My husband and I are in Walmart. My daughter is screaming her lungs out on the floor and running around knocking everything over. She’s in full temper tantrum mode.

I’m embarrassed, tired, frustrated, and angry. This was the toddler tantrum that changed how I looked at my child.

Let’s flash back to earlier in the day. We took our first trip as a family of 3 down to Orlando. My daughter was great on the plane, but very antsy during our 90 minute wait to get our rental car. Yes, 90 minutes.

We finally got to our villa and ordered pizza because we were hungry. Then we had 2 choices. Wait until morning to go get our food for the week or just get it that night so tomorrow we could relax. We chose the latter. I still regret it.

We spent a good 2 hours in Walmart looking for food because we didn’t know where anything was and we had to wait in line. Forever. I am pretty sure this was the busiest Walmart in the country with how long those lines were at 9 p.m. on a Thursday.

This was when my daughter had her tantrum. It made me double think every tantrum she’s ever had and put it into perspective as to why they were happening. Since then, she has had a lot less tantrums, even for a 2 year old.


Why Does My Child Have Temper Tantrums?

Temper Tantrums occur when a child is starting to develop language skills, but desire a sense of independence. Toddlers do not have the ability to express their emotions, such as anger and frustration, so they do it the only way they know how.

Here are some things to ask yourself when your child is having a temper tantrum and how to prevent them. We will never be able to stop them all since they are toddlers after all, but even 1 less tantrum a week could give us our sanity back.

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Is My Child Tired?

A toddler likes consistency, so if you’re going out close to or past their bed or nap time, you are asking for a tantrum. Toddlers use tantrums as a way to communicate when they’re unhappy and being tired makes even an adult cranky.

When we went to Walmart, even my husband and I were exhausted. We were all running on fumes. The best option to avoid her temper tantrum was to take the approach of waiting until morning when we’re all refreshed to go shopping.


Is My Child Hungry?

The term ‘hangry’ is in the dictionary for a reason. People get angry when they are hungry. What makes it even worse is if you’re in a grocery store surrounding all this food and not able to eat it.

It’s like telling an adult to go into a room filled with chocolate and not being able to eat it. I would fail and I’m sure you would too. Next time you are going out to the store, think about the last time your toddler ate and if they might be hungry.


Is My Child Bored?

My daughter can’t even sit through a 90 minute movie she likes, let alone a 2 hour Walmart trip. Toddlers don’t have the attention span adults do. They want to play and touch things to learn. There’s a reason sensory toys are so big right now.

This is a tough one since you have to try to get into the mindset of your child. Ask yourself, would I want to ______ for ____ instead of playing? Fill in the blanks for your exact situation and ask yourself that question before going out.


Ever been in a store when your child just goes into complete temper tantrum mode? You're not alone. Follows these tips to help temper tantrums from occurring in the first place and learn what to do when one happens. #toddler #shopping #momlife

Is There A Pattern?

Think back to the last few times your child had a tantrum. Were you in the same place? Same aisle? Same situation? There may be a trigger that causes your child to start having tantrums. My daughter gets upset when can’t touch toys in the toy aisle.

She wants to get down, but if you let her down, she will refuse to listen and run away. If you try to pick her up, the tantrums start. I avoid these aisles in the store with her as often as possible for this very reason.


Do I Need To Bring My Child?

This has helped us tremendously in preventing temper tantrums. Most weeks I will now grocery shop at night and go to a few stores in a row while my husband watches my daughter.

If you’re working full-time, going to the store right after work before you pick up your child at daycare might be an option. Shopping is boring when it is routine.

Now when I bring my daughter shopping, it’s a special event, not a chore. She enjoys it much more and we have less embarrassing tantrums.


What To Do When Your Child is About to Have A Tantrum

Let’s be honest here. Most toddlers don’t go from 0-100 in 2 seconds without reason. There’s usually something they want that causes them to react. As a parent, you can usually start sensing when a tantrum will occur during a trip. So what do you do?


Keep calm. This one is very important. Keep your voice low and tone calm. Your child senses when you’re frustrated or angry and they latch onto that. This only makes a temper tantrum worse.

Remember a child is just expressing their emotions the only way they know how. Yelling at them or becoming frustrated will not help.


Give them an option. We let my daughter choose if she wants to ride in the top of the cart or sit inside the cart. This causes her to take a moment to think because she gets to choose what she wants, not what we want.

Whenever possible give your child some sort of option.


Be prepared. Bring snacks to keep them busy. My daughter loves Saf-T pops. You can also use positive reinforcement by giving them a reward for doing good at the store either in the car or as soon as you get home. This can be a treat, activity, or something else.

The more immediate the reward, the more effective it will be. Being prepared also means you. Have your list ready to go and easy to navigate the store with.

The faster you can shop, the easier it is on you and your child.


If all else fails, learn from it. Look back on your day and ask yourself these questions and you will see there may have been an underlying reason they had a temper tantrum.


What is your most embarrassing temper tantrum story? Let me know in the comments!


Did you know most temper tantrums are preventable? Learn the tips and tricks to help keep your toddler's temper out of control. Tantrum happening? I've got the tips to help you through it.

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Joshua Alivaa

Saturday 24th of March 2018

This is very helpful!! Thanks for sharing it!!


Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Ah, tantrums are the worst! I definitely agree: most tantrums are the result of my kids being overly tired or hungry. Usually a quick cuddle or a snack will do the trick! Really great information for parents who are lost!

Holly @ Granola on the Side

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Awesome suggestions! Temper Tantrums are NO. JOKE. At least its just for a season!!


Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Great tips on avoiding the ever dreaded temper tantrum. As you said as you try to get behind what is causing the meltdown and take the steps to prevent them, it helps tremendously. Like you stated, they did not wake up planning to have a tantrum.


Wednesday 21st of March 2018

These are such great tips on how to deal with tantrums. It is very important to stay calm if your child has a tantrum, even though it is so hard to do!


Wednesday 21st of March 2018

I completely agree Anitra. I'm pretty sure toddlers are designed to test patience!