Disciplining and Preventing Toddler Tantrums

Discipline is one of the most important, yet most difficult responsibilities we have as parents. When you find your toddler doing something they shouldn’t be, what do you do? 

Here are some options that I’ve found helpful with my boys





Redirection is quite honestly my favorite, it’s discipline in it’s friendliest form. Let’s say you are outside playing with your toddler and they find an anthill that they just have to mess with, you catch them and show that you have bubbles! Now your toddler has completely forgotten about the fun anthill they found and is excited about the bubbles. This can be applied in daily scenarios, making our lives much easier in the process. Prepare for situations that may call for redirection, take a favorite toy or snack in your bag on the go just in case!


Time Out

In my experience time out works best when you are at home or in a familiar environment, where you can place your toddler in a solitary spot to sit for a 2-3 minutes. Typically, if I have to give the boys time out, I clearly tell them that they are in time out and they cannot move until it is over. There are of course tears with this method on occasion, however they seem to understand after being told no multiple times then placed in time out. Try not to leave them sitting there for too long or they will get restless and more upset. Once their time is over I sit down for a moment, talk about why they were placed there, that we behave in that manner, and give them a hug/kiss before sending them on their way. 


Get on their level

Sometimes the best thing to do is to talk with your toddler. Get down on their level and discuss the decisions that they are making. Talk to them about why this is not a good choice, explain the consequences in simple words. For example, “We can’t stand on the table, you might fall down and get a boo boo”. Don’t forget that just because your toddler is little doesn’t mean that they cannot reason, on occasion of course. 



Strategies for avoiding the tantrum


Give them a choice

Toddlers love to be in control of everything. 

We all know that this isn’t something that is possible. If we let our toddlers make their own decisions on everything our homes would be utter madhouses 24/7.

To satisfy their need to have control, give them a choice. Do you want mashed potatoes or green beans? By doing this, we are maintaining some level of control as to what they decide. This way they have the options, make the choice and are less likely to scream for candy over vegetables. 


Have a routine

One sure fire way to have an upset toddler is to completely throw them off with a new routine each day. 

Having a structured day allows our children to know what they can expect in a typical day. When our kids are not sure if they get to play outside, what time they eat lunch or if they have to nap, they may be expecting the opposite of what you are that day. These situations can easily cause a meltdown, or multiple. Get your toddler in a routine, so they know when they are done with dinner it is bath time then bed time. 


Avoid Yelling

When you are telling you are telling your toddler No they are already bound to get upset. If you decide to add yelling into the mix the situation will go from 0 to 100 fast. Your toddler may not understand why your are getting loud, they could become scared and less likely to hear what you are trying to say because of how it is being communicated. 


In conclusion there are many more ways to discipline toddlers and prevent tantrums. How do you do it in your home? What works best? 



  • Soniachic96

    Time out is a very good punishment for younger kids,I always used to do the time out on my son But not anymore because he is 10, years old now and he barely listen to me now and then!

  • Autumn

    We use a lot of redirection here as well. So much so that my oldest uses it on her sister to keep her out of things for mom or just to keep little sister from messing with her solitary play. πŸ˜‚

  • Fiorella

    We have 2 small children, 1 and 3 years, it’s a challenge for sure! πŸ˜€ these tips are great and for us the best one that works is getting to their level, see in the eyes. Thanks for this post, it’s very helpful!

  • Rachelle Willgren

    So my two kids… here are our stories. My oldest started his terrible twos at about 16 months old. it was BAD. BAD. Turns out, he has autism and sensory processing issues. Once we got a handle on THAT, he still had EPIC tantrums, but we had better tools to deal with them. My youngest pretty much skipped the terrible twos and really didn’t throw many tantrums until he turned three, and suddenly, he’s a freaking THREE-NAGER! Reasoning and dealing with him when he’s having a tantrum is IMPOSSIBLE. Actually, putting him in preschool a couple days a week has really helped, but his tantrums are no longer “cute” and “funny…” they’re AWFUL!

    Thank you for your tips. A lot of these tips work for school-age children as well.

  • Jill

    Great tips. Dealing with toddlers is a task and a half. I wish redirection actually worked with my daughter. I have never in my life met a 2.5-year-old as focused as her. I’m forever trying to lead her away from those no-no activities with new things. Only her response is forever “no thank you, mommy!” She tries my patience for sure. lol

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