How to Deal With Toddler Meltdowns

by Shelley Frost, Demand Media
    Consoling a frustrated toddler can sometimes ease a meltdown.

    Consoling a frustrated toddler can sometimes ease a meltdown.

    The whining, the high-pitched squeal, the flailing of his little body, whatever his telltale signs, you know when a meltdown is imminent. Whether your toddler has temper tantrums weekly, daily or hourly, your instinct may be to turn and run or hide behind the nearest rock, but you can reduce the impact of meltdowns for everyone. Even though it feels like your toddler is being naughty, the dramatic productions are often because of frustration or triggers like exhaustion. Keeping yourself cool under the collar makes it easier to calm down your little firecracker.

    Step 1

    Check your own anger and frustration at the door as soon as you see the beginnings of a meltdown. Talk yourself down and take deep breaths to keep yourself under control so the situation doesn't turn into a full-scale nuclear meltdown for both of you.

    Step 2

    Analyze the situation quickly to figure out what triggered the temper tantrum. Is your toddler trying to manipulate you to get his way or is he frustrated because he can't do something? Knowing what caused the outburst helps you fix the situation.

    Step 3

    Move your upset toddler to a safe place if his meltdown puts him at risk of getting hurt. For example, if he decides to throw a fit on the sidewalk near a busy street, carry him into the house or to a quiet, open area without any traffic nearby.

    Step 4

    Talk to your toddler in a calming but firm voice. If you begin screaming, he won't likely calm down anytime soon. Your toddler picks up on your behaviors, so a soothing voice may help him cool down.

    Step 5

    Offer him help if his temper tantrum is due to frustration. For example, if he can't get dressed, help him get his head through the neck hole of his shirt or get his shoes started on the correct feet.

    Step 6

    Give him time to throw his tantrum and cool down on his own if he's simply throwing the fit to get his way. Don't give in if he's trying to manipulate you into giving him his way. It's tempting to hand him the piece of candy he wants or buy him a toy at the store to stop the scene, but this teaches him to continue throwing fits to get his way in the future. As difficult as it can be, ignore the tantrum as long as your toddler is safe.

    Step 7

    Supervise your toddler while he's throwing his temper tantrum so he doesn't get hurt. Send him to his room, but leave the door open so you can keep an eye on what he's doing. If he starts scaling the curtains or ripping out his dresser drawers, step in to stop the unsafe activities.

    Step 8

    Hug your child once he calms down from his meltdown. This shows him your unconditional love even when his behavior is less than desirable.

    Step 9

    Call your toddler's doctor if the tantrums seem abnormal or worsen over time. Ask for help if your toddler regularly hurts himself and others or destroys things during his meltdowns. Get help for yourself if you are unable to stay calm or you don't feel right about how you handle the meltdowns.

    Tips

    • Make sure your toddler gets enough sleep and eats regularly so he isn't tired, hungry and cranky. This combination may cause more meltdowns.
    • Pay attention to what causes your toddler's meltdowns. For example, if he always throws a fit when you grocery shop right before nap time, try changing your schedule to avoid meltdowns.

    About the Author

    Shelley Frost started writing professionally in 2007. She specializes in parenting and education topics. Frost gained her experience in various positions in the education field, including classroom teaching and tutoring. She holds a BA in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

    Photo Credits

    • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images