23 mom-tested ways to manage a tantrum (that really work)

Here's what to try the next time your toddler has a meltdown.

toddler tantrums
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Hang around a toddler long enough, and you'll quickly learn there are a lot of things that can cause tantrums—maybe your child is overtired, overworked, overstimulated...or maybe they are just having a crummy day. Tantrums are inevitable and unpredictable, but it's our jobs as mamas to help our children through them.

We asked Motherly moms to share their number one way to deal with tantrums—and these mom-tested toddler tantrum tips are just too good not to share.

Here's what to try when your toddler has a tantrum.


Offer hugs

1. "Be your child's calm in the chaos. I always offer a hug to validate her feelings. Then wait for it to be over before we talk about it. Usually, now she asks for a hug herself." —Chantelle Hill

2."I try to see if she can express herself, offer hugs and if she really needs the space. I give her space and let her know mommy is here if she needs me." — Samantha Peterson

3. "I try to be the "safe" place. We just entered the temper tantrum phase so I'm still learning. Right now, I just calmly sit beside him. I hold my arms out to offer a hug every few minutes to ensure that he knows I'm not mad at him." — Catherine Abrams

Acknowledge feelings

4. "I sit on the floor with him and wait quietly until he's ready to reach out for comfort. It's over in less than two minutes when I do it that way. 💕 I reaffirm the emotions he may be feeling, and tell him it's okay to have those. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to be tired or hangry. But it's not okay to hurt yourself or others because of those emotions. Then we find a solution. Usually, food because 90% of tantrums come from him being hangry. 😂" — Kaela Westbrook

5. "I let her be—I am showing her that I breathe very deeply and loud and she tries to imitate. Once she starts to calm down I speak to her with a very calm voice trying to explain to her that I acknowledge her feelings and the cause." — Par Parpla

6. "Encourage him to use his words and name his feelings or help me understand what's wrong. Sometimes, if it's fueled by exhaustion/overstimulation, give him space and make the environment conducive for a nap or quiet time." — Oriaku Onuoha Bean

Wait it out + talk about it

7. "I have started to sit quietly and wait for him to calm a bit, and then we hug. Trying to comfort in the midst of it doesn't work for us at all." — Jennifer Navors

8. "Typically I just tell my kiddo "Okay, I can see that you're upset. We can talk when you are calm." And I walk away and let him get it all out. He usually calms down fairly quick (he's 21 months old right now) and when he is calm we talk about whatever he is upset." — Delaney Dishong

9. "Get on their level and talk through why it's happening. Sometimes a redirection helps too." — Shayna Rohrer Kerkstra

Pull out books

10. "My twin boys are three and what really works [is] that I sit close to them so they can reach me if they need me and start reading their favorite story. Usually 1-2 minutes later they stop crying and they are coming close for a cuddle and a story. It works nine times out of 10." — Boglárka Wágner

Breastfeed

11. "Breastfeeding does the trick or it just prevents them." — Bea Harter Halbgewachs

12. "Boob. 🤷🏻" — Bridget Rosaline Neview

Sing

13. "I sing, "If you're angry and you know it." Right now it works. 🤷" — Erin Nicole

Breathing exercises

14. "I start doing deep breathing exercises so I don't lose it too. He follows by example after a few minutes. I was surprised the first time it worked. Hoping it continues for a while." — Hannah Hobbs

Become a toddler

15. "The best thing is you also become a toddler. Enjoy to the maximum, it's real fun." — Reshma Fathima

16. "I threw a tantrum with them, when they stopped I kept going and one said, "you look silly." That was the end of the tantrums to date 🤷." — Arahi Rana Wall

17. "Lay on the floor and throw a tantrum with them. 🤷🏻🤣." — Becky Snedeker

Make them laugh

18. "Make him laugh! Always works!" — Vicki Miller

Give choices

19. "Giving choices like what to wear or eat (after giving acceptable options) has really cut down on tantrums because she has more say in her day." — Alexis Kathryn Taylor

Blow bubbles

20. "We blow bubbles to calm [them] down and refocus on communication to problem solve (e.g. words, pointing, sign, etc.). The neurons that fire together wire together!" — Carolina Alexander

Stay flexible...and stay calm

21. "I've learned it's different for each child. What works for one does not always work with the other. But most of the time they want to be heard and understood and have gotten overwhelmed by their big feelings (and are tired haha)." — Kate Coyle

22. "Stay calm!!" — Maribel Rivera

23. "I just let them be. When they're done I'll give them treats and love... It's like you're on your PMS, but toddler version, so just let it pass...hehehe." — Aryan Gudz

[This post was originally posted December, 2019]

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