How to Handle Toddler Tantrums: Accept the Tantrum! Be the Tantrum!

How to Handle Toddler Tantrums: Accept the Tantrum! Be the Tantrum!

Today we’re going to wax extremely poetic about tantrums. Ah, the tantrum! Something my children HAVE NEVER done and WOULD NEVER DO. I’m kidding, of course. My kids have had and will continue to have tantrums for years to come, I reckon. Kids are human beings. And human beings have a tendency to be assholes from time to time.

Image: various brennemans

This realization changed my life, by the way — the idea that GOOD PEOPLE can be giant pains in the ass. The fact that all good people have been assholes at one point in their lives and will, most likely, revisit that assholery again, even sporadically, has opened my heart to the glory of humanity. It has also opened my mind to being more accepting of tantrums — from children, adults, animals, etc.

And that’s really all I’ve got when it comes to dealing with tantrums.



Also, every single tantrum that has ever happened has come to an end.

That said, I feel that we as a generation of parents could stand to be a little more … disciplinarian. There is, I think, a collective fear permeating our community — thanks to social media and its depiction of love and light and blessed perfection. If our children aren’t Pinterest-perfect in public, well then, we’ve all failed. And so. We are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them smiling for the camera. Which is a huge problem because that is not real life, yo. Tantrums do not get Likes and Pins.

However, giving in is not the answer.

I have learned this the hard way, by the way, because when you are out in public, you have the choice to:

A. Give into the thing that is being demanded and experience peace and harmony in the afterword or …

B. Say NO because you MEAN NO and deal with the meltdown of the century/have to drag your child (and other children) kicking and screaming out of the store where you have just filled your cart with groceries.

Willpower is an important thing to establish with one’s children, I feel. Not that we shouldn’t all know when to pick our battles — it’s just that we also need to know when to GO TO BATTLE. And that it’s OK to do so. It’s OK to raise our voices, to yell sometimes if we need to, to say NO.

(Of course, there are cases of children who cannot help the way their bodies feel and the way their voices carry and the way they react in certain situations — and that is to be respected, as well. I would love to hear from some of you on this, by the way. Please share.) I have written about my struggles with Bo on GGC and although cutting sugar from her diet has drastically reduced meltdowns, they still occur in her more than the others. Her willpower is otherworldy and completely unflappable. Which is an amazing asset/frustrating challenge, depending on the day.

That said, here are my five ways of dealing with tantrums. Please feel free to add yours to the list!

1. Give them space. If I’ve learned anything from a tantrum, it’s that it is not my job to calm my child. It is THEIR job to calm themselves. And so, I wait it out on the sidelines until I am wanted.

2. If you’re in public, make peace with the fact that you are probably being judged and hated by everyone around you. Smile, apologize for the inconvenience and, if possible, move your child to a less-populated area.

3. Recognize that your child is still an amazing human being, even though he's acting a little bit like an asshole at the moment. This doesn’t mean you love him any less, by the way. If anything, you love him more because you’re willing to treat him like a human being that you want to see grow into a more evolved human being. Give yourself a high-five for that, sister.

4. Know that you’re not alone.

5. And that everything is temporary. Even tantrums.

With love and solidarity,


Originally published on

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