How to Deal With Toddler Temper Tantrums

You see, I wear two hats as a doctor, and one of them is that of a pediatrician.

Rob Lamberts, MD
5-minute read
Episode #10

Quick and Dirty Tips for Dealing With Temper Tantrums

Tip 1: Don’t Grab the Tiger by the Tail

The whole point of a temper tantrum is to put on a show so the child gets what he wants. Ignoring the show is the best way to handle it. But if it is impossible to ignore, stay calm. We used to say: “I can’t have you throw a fit in here. If you want to throw a fit, you’ll have to do it in your bedroom. Once you are done, you can come back out.” It’s a major downer to throw a fit by yourself.

Disciplining a tantrum will only bring attention to the child. It will make this normal behavior into a battle of wills. Don’t do it. Besides, it is not “bad” behavior (it’s just loud).

Tip 2: Avoid Public Humiliation

If your child makes you feel foolish whenever you go to Wal-Mart, don’t go with them to Wal-Mart. That may be impossible in some circumstances, but I have seen many parents bring their 18-Month child to a quiet restaurant or a movie theater. That is a recipe for disaster. You may end up being a homebody for a year or so, but that’s just one of the prices of parenting.

Tip 3: If You can’t Avoid, Distract

Sometimes you can’t avoid going to the grocery store with your child. When you do get in public, bring along ways to keep your child distracted. When they do start to scream, find some way to get their attention. That may seem like giving in to the tantrum-- perhaps it is -- but there is the small issue of survival that needs to be considered.

Tip 4: Coat Yourself in Teflon

Somehow you need to ignore those busybodies that tell you are spoiling your child and those hairy-eyeballs you get from people at the store. They are wrong. Strengthen your resolve – possibly by talking to your pediatrician or friends who understand, or possibly by listening to this podcast 100 times. Whatever it takes, you need to believe you are doing the right thing.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg on parenting, but it’s all I have time for in this podcast. I hope I have talked some parents off of the ledge, now that I explained that they are not the worst parent ever. You aren’t!

In the meantime, my Quick and Dirty Tips colleague, Mighty Mommy, has lots of helpful tips on discipline and getting through the toddler years.

If you have topics you want me to address, send them to housecalldoctor@quickanddirtytips.com. You can also tweet your suggestions to me at @houscalldoc or become part of the House Call Doctor throng on Facebook.

Catch you next time! Stay Healthy!



Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.