How To Deal With A Tantrum: 7 Meltdown Ideas

What to do when your toddler has a tantrum or meltdown, including when you’re in public.
How to deal with temper tantrums like a pro


What parent hasn't ever had to deal with their child having a tantrum at one point or another? Almost all parents certainly have to deal with meltdowns at some time. These are little recurring stunts that the little ones pull on us to show their dissent at a young age.

In any case, this shouldn't be the only lesson learned from this common situation. Besides, parents need to ask themselves how to take action as adults in these trying moments. To help out with this task, we propose 7 ideas to handle a tantrum like a pro when your toddler acts out.

What is a tantrum?

This situation will definitely sound familiar: You're with your child at home or in public, when suddenly some conflict comes up and the screaming, sobbing, and temper tantrums start. Maybe your child throws him or herself to the floor and you feel like there's no way to console them. This kind of behavior is the hallmark of toddler tantrums.

From 2-4 years old, children go through a particular developmental phase (a completely normal one): Meanwhile, they keep discovering the way the world works and start learning about their likes and dislikes, making decisions, and expressing their emotions and desires...

Sometimes toddlers have a hard time expressing themselves using language, and this is often their reason for frustration. This is when the meltdowns start because this event is meaningful to the child and they feel annoyed when the parent doesn't understand their emotions.

How to handle a meltdown

To start, first and foremost, staying calm is the most important thing that you need to do when handling a fit. This is easier said than done, and you'll need to have a lot of self-control. But, if anyone has to do this, it's the parents. If mothers and fathers achieve this, they'll be tantrum pros.

To try to handle the situation properly remember what we said before: when tantrums happen, this means that our little ones don't know how to effectively manage their emotions.

Every situation is different, but no matter what, you always have to keep your cool and remember that your goal is to help your child to learn to handle their feelings independently in a gradual manner.

7 Tantrum strategies

Here are some suggestions that will help you to decide how to act when your child throws a fit.

1. Anticipate the meltdown

This doesn't mean avoiding situations that tend to set off tantrums in your child habitually, but you can try to be more aware of this and predict when things might start to get out of hand.

Exhaustion is the arch-nemesis when it comes to tantrums, and this is inevitable, so always keep this in mind. On the same note, recurring situations that always cause your child to throw a tantrum will need a different strategy to nip this in the bud; think about this beforehand when you start to see it coming.

2. When in doubt, be kind

Don't forget that when your child has a meltdown, they're most likely having a worse time than you are. Maybe they don't understand why something is bad, they don't see any other option besides this behavior, or they just can't explain what's happening to them.

When this happens, don't forget that they're feeling desperate and your kindness will make them feel better. Don't deny them this and give them a warm hug, a kind look, speak softly, or offer them physical contact and closeness. This is sure to cheer your little one up.

3. Don't expect adult behavior from a toddler

Do you ever forget that you're with a small child? You can't expect them to act with the same logic, determination, and accuracy as an adult. Actually, in many cases, we're actually less capable of behaving correctly then they are.

So, learn to have more realistic expectations. This type of change doesn't happen overnight with toddler meltdowns. These modifications require patience, understanding, perseverance, and you need to have faith that your child will eventually learn.

4. Don't ignore the child or give in

You've probably heard some people say "just leave him, he'll get tired" or then there are the parents who always just give in to the little one's every desire and demand. We hate to break it to you, but neither of these methods will help to improve your child's behavior.

If you ignore your toddler, this might actually change the way that they express their frustration. However, it could also lead them to feel unloved if they realize that you do not react to their suffering. On the other hand, we highly discourage giving into these hissy fits by systematically giving the child what they want in these situations.

The best thing to do is to evaluate your options before you take action and anticipate the consequences of the different alternatives. Don't forget that there's no magic formula and there isn't just one way to go about handling these situations.

5. Help them to use their words

Communication is often the missing piece when everyday situations end up blowing up into a terrible tantrum. Little ones have a limited vocabulary to express themselves and to get people to understand them, which is obviously frustrating.

On top of that, toddlers often have a hard time explaining the way that they feel with words. This is something that is hard enough for adults to do, so just imagine how difficult this must be for them.

Knowing that this could be the key to turning over a new leaf, make the most of this situation to help your child to find a way to explain what they're trying to tell you.

Making eye contact with the little one could help to stop the tantrum.


6. Crouch down on their level and make eye contact

It's easier to connect on an emotional level with someone if you make eye contact. This is no mystery, but if you think about it from the child's perspective, having a giant adult towering over you could be quite intimidating. So, try to get close to your kid in these cases.

To optimize communication during a meltdown, crouch down to their level and make eye contact with them. This will make sure that they focus their attention on you, and also creates a feeling of closeness to work on this conflict in a more constructive way.

7. If you're in public, take them to a quiet place

There's no perfect solution or ideal textbook fixes. This is why you'll have to accept the fact that these maddening meltdowns are most likely to happen in public, and not in the privacy and comfort of your home.

When this happens, you have to remain calm and avoid getting overwhelmed by the fact that you're in public. Don't forget that you're with a child, and ignore anyone that criticizes you for not being able to solve a little tantrum in two seconds. If this happens, remind this person that you're dealing with a child and not a robot, and focus on what's really important: Your kid.

If you're in a very crowded place, bring your little one to a quiet area so that you can handle the situation in a calmer environment and talk to him or her privately. This way you'll be able to focus better on one another and reach an understanding. When in doubt, remember: Choosing kindness when you're speechless is always a good decision.