Three Tips for Toddler Tantrums

toddler tantrums

I now understand what parents mean when mentioning the term “three-nager.” My daughter will be 3 in a few months, but I swear she’s already in her rebellious stage.

Quotes and Conversations

Guys…I cannot make this up. These are things said by my child.

Me: Jane, are you listening?

Jane: No, mama, I am not listening. 

Me: Jane, what is bothering you?

Jane: You are.

Me: Oh. Well, what am I doing that is bothering you?

Jane: Mom. Stop talking. Leave me alone.

Jane: Mom, get out of my room or you will get a spanking.

Jane: No circle time for you, Mom. You’re not listening. 

My daughter, like myself, obviously has a very strong will and knows exactly what she wants. The trouble is, she is 2, and not a grown woman. So, how do we navigate the small little battles that pile up to feel like a war? 

Laugh all you want, but I channeled my inner teacher to produce some techniques that have worked for us. 

Responsibility Chart

We were having some serious issues with our toddler doing the little things. Picking up her room, brushing teeth, and staying in her bed at bedtime. Thanks to Canva, I designed a responsibility/chore chart that we review every day. 

Each day before bed, we take a look at the chart. If she accomplished that responsibility, she gets to put her OWN check. The kicker: the last responsibility is staying in her bed at bedtime. She knows that she ONLY gets that check if she stays in her bed after lights out. I kid you not that the first words out of her mouth each morning are, “Mama, I want my check.” I don’t know if this is a long-term solution, but the hour-long screaming fights at bedtime are no longer happening. I’ll take the win where I can. 

Snack Box

My daughter LOVES snacks. Not dinner, not lunch. Snacks. We just call meals big snacks at this point. My good friend sent me a reel of this particular hack, and it’s been a game changer.

Jane loves to graze, but she ends up either getting a stomach ache, losing her appetite for meal time, or just getting cranky. Rather than fighting all day long, we now have a designated snack box. Each morning, she gets 3-4 snacks for the day. She now knows that once she runs out of snacks in her bucket, she is out of luck. This has helped her to pace herself. The few times where she runs out and asks for another, I ask, “Well, are there any more snacks in your box?” When she responds “no,” I explain that means she is out for the day. She might pout for a minute or two, but at least the only person she can blame is herself. Is that okay to say about a two-year-old?

Take a Break

My daughter gets really emotional really fast. Sometimes she just cannot regulate her emotions and gets swept up in a frenzy. I likely just described your toddler, too. I don’t want to squash her emotions, but I also don’t want her throwing fits and screaming all over the house.

My husband and I decided her room is her safe space. If she needs to play on her own, uninterrupted by her little brother, she can go to her room. If she needs to read and have some quiet time, she can go to her room. Most importantly, if she is really having to grapple with some emotions, we have her “take a break” in her room. We tried time out, but she would not stay in the corner or chair, and we did not want to associate her room as a punishment. We simply walk (or carry) her to her room, close the door, and let her know we will come back in a few minutes OR she can come out when she is ready to stop fussing. When she comes out, we ask her if she feels better and needs to talk about it. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s not a 100% perfect system, but it has worked well for us.

Her third birthday is right around the corner. Each stage brings different kinds of frustrations as well as different kinds of joy. Take each battle as it comes. 

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.


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