I have news for you: toddlers tantrum.

This is what they do.  I have spoken about how to deal with tantrums before and I will talk about it again because it is a tough situation for parents with little ones.

Children who are approximately 18 months to 4 years old are starting to develop independence.  They don’t know exactly how to express it, so it usually comes out as a tantrum, whining or just as unpleasant behavior.   Parents don’t want to hear it and don’t know what to do.

So here some more ideas:  give them more opportunities to be independent and to express themselves and they will need to lash out less.

Give them jobs: feed the cat, put the shoes away, wipe up the spilled water, put on their clothes.  Young children love to help out and “do it themselves” so give them that opportunity.  I can hear a lot of parents saying, my child would never do any of those things!  That’s ok too, find something special that they would like to do (help dad with the measuring tape, help mom crack the eggs for the pancakes).  When your child feels like they are purposeful and they are competent (they CAN do it!) then they will tantrum less.

But here’s the thing, they will still tantrum.  Children (and adults…) get fussy when they are hungry or tired.  I find that I am often out of the house right before lunchtime or right before nap and I dread trying to get them to leave their friends’ house, gymnastics or the park when they are tired or hungry.  So here’s my trick:  (I’m not a fan of tricking children, so you can decide for yourself how comfortable you are with this idea, I find that this trick builds thinking skills but some may disagree…)

When your children don’t want to leave, ask them if they want to come back sometime.  When all they can say is “NOOOO!” then respond, “Ok, we don’t have to come back if you don’t want to.”  

So let me play it out for you:

When it is almost time to leave, give your children a warning, “We are going home in 5 minutes!”  Then when it is time to go say, “All right, time to go home now.”


So this is when you ask them, “Did you have fun?”


“Would you like to come back sometime?”


“Ok, if you don’t want to come back, that’s ok too.”

“NOOOO!!” (I can start to hear them think it through a little more…)

“Would you like to come back sometime?”

“Hmmmm…. yes!”

And instead of thinking about how horrible it is to leave, they start thinking about how they can come back.  This trick works especially well if you have kept your word (which is why I don’t like tricking kids) and you have built up trust.  They know that you will bring them back in the future and the tantrum subsides.

Of course this doesn’t work every time but children often have a knee-jerk negative response and when they begin to realize that they way need to think through their answers, then they may become a little more aware.  

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