Toddler tantrums: 10 things to do when your toddler is stressing you out


Let’s face it – toddlers sure know how to push our buttons. My little one, probably much like yours, is like that classic subject of that nursery rhyme – There Was a Little Girl. You know, when she was good, she was very, very good – but when she bad she was horrid – especially when one of THOSE toddler tantrums are concerned!

Yup, whether it’s developmental, teething, an impending illness or just pure boundary pushing, those horrid moments are unavoidable BUT there are some things you can do to lessen the pain….and those toddler tantrums. These are the ones I have found to be most effective with my little girl with a curl….

1. Get out of the house

You know the drill – they wake up from a nap, they are in a vile mood. You can see within 10 minutes that their mood is not going to brighten whatever you try within your four walls, and things are likely to go down hill very quickly. In these situations, bundling them off in their pram and getting them out into the big wide world where there are other things to focus on apart from you can do wonders!

2. Get into nature

Nature has an amazing, calming effect on our little ones. And let’s face it, once upon a time children were outside, experiencing the benefits of nature a hell of a lot more than now. Just think about how you feel when you take a walk in nature when you’re feeling stressed out. Much better right? Top tip: If you’re nearby a river, or similar, a little stint of feeding the ducks is bound to leave both of you feeling much better for it.

3. Go to the playground

All children love the playground, and I’ll bet that as soon as your little one cottons on to the fact that you’re en route to their favourite place, they’ll forget about that foul mood they were in. Get stuck in and have some fun with them, and watch those stresses disappear…

4. Sing

This one is particularly effective for a toddler that is driving you mad in a pram. There are two strategies here – sing so you can’t hear them, or sing to entertain them. Either works a treat and can be used depending on how p*ssed off you are feeling at that moment. Choose a song that goes on for a lonnnng time!

5. Dance

If the weather’s trashy and you’re stuck at home with a grumpy chops, get rid of your and their bad mood but flicking on some music and swinging them about a bit. Dancing is a well known stress reliever, so shake that booty baby!

Toddler tantrums: 10 things to do when your toddler is stressing you out

6. Give them some love

This might sound counter-intuitive when the last thing you are feeling for your little caveman or woman right now is love, but it might be just the thing they need to help them press that re-set button. They might be feeling out of sorts or overwhelmed, so if you can swallow your urge to throttle them and give them a hug, you might be surprised at how that can change things…

7. Speak Toddler-ese

OK this takes a bit of practice but there is an amazing thing I read about in Dr Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Toddler on the Block called Toddler-ese which is a fantastically simple way of connecting and communicating with your little one on their level. You’re going to feel like a total numpty doing this at first, but trust me – this works. I can’t train you in it here and now (you’ll need the book for that) but here’s a quick example of how I would use it with my girl when she bugs me relentlessly about, for instance, going outside to play when it’s rubbish weather:

E: Outside! Outside! Outside!

Me: (Kneeling down, in a caring but animated voice) Outside! Outside! You want! Outside now!

E: (At this point looks at me like – Woah! You actually get me.)

Me: (In a softer voice) Play outside, play outside, I know E, but no…! No! No play outside now. (In a cheerful voice) No outside now, yucky yucky weather but hey! Let’s play catch inside instead!

I have used this umpteen times to head off a tantrum when the nag-athon commences and more often than not, it has worked, diffusing a potentially stressful situation. To find out more about the book and Toddler-ese check it out here

8. Have a glass of wine

The relaxing effects of wine are well noted, and a glass isn’t going to leave you too trolleyed to be responsible. If you’ve been under your little one’s kosh all day – especially if they are in the thick of toddler tantrums – there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t open that bottle of wine a little earlier to help you get through the last couple of hours before bedtime. If it helps you get through doing the final bath and bedtime after a day of them being absolutely vile, then go do it.

9. Put them in time out

You know when someone is being so hugely annoying you can’t stand to be around them – well the same goes for your toddler too. You don’t have to be the martyr and put up with constant suffering. Give yourself a minute or so break and put them in time out. It will give them a chance to realize how much they are stressing you out and calm down during a toddler tantrum, that you mean business and give them the opportunity to fix their short circuit. Not everyone agrees with this tactic, so take it or leave it as you like.

10. Pass them over

If all else fails, hand over responsibility for a while. Whether that’s literally handing them over to your other half the minute they are home, or inviting someone around to help diffuse the situation – sometimes you just can’t go it alone and an ally is what is desperately needed…

What do you do when your toddler is stressing you out? Do you have any strategies for dealing with tantrums? Share any tips or tricks you have here…or if you’re looking for more ideas on how to keep your toddler occupied check out these sensory play ideas for toddlers.

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  1. Such great tips! I love my 2 year old dearly, but man…she knows exactly how to push me over the edge! Another tactic I often use is to let them pick out a movie, put it on in the living room, and lock myself in my bedroom for just a little bit. She generally sits through the entire film and I get a little break! Bonus points if she chooses something educational!


    • Haha I love that! I haven’t tried that one…probably because I know it will last all of 5 minutes until the Mummmmmmmmy! calling starts. But might give it a go in the next time of desperation! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Great advice!! I can’t wait til I have I can have a glass of wine after a tough toddler day! x #sharewithme

  3. I’d been through most of this list before 9am this morning, apart from the wine! That was at 9.30 😉 Great post #brilliantblogposts

  4. Great suggestions here. I’m out of the toddler stage but I have a threenager now… WHEW… what a lot of work!

    I take your tips of having a glass of whine/wine seriously.

    Thanks for sharing. Pinning this to my Deliberate PARENTING board.

  5. These are fantastic and couldn’t have come at a better time then when my two toddlers are driving me up the wall. lol I will take it all on board whatever will help. hahaha We are flying solo without Daddy this weekend so come Monday I should be needed that moment to myself. 🙂 Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  6. Great tips! I read something earlier about giving them an early bath then tea in PJs – sounds like a good way to bring bedtime forward a little bit! Certainly breaks up the routine.

  7. Great tips and so true!

    I would also say try to keep your sense of humour. When I take a step back to get some perspective, whatever situation we’re in usually starts to seem so ridiculous it’s funny.

    Unfortunately (but also amusingly) my daughter has taken to yelling ‘STOP MUMMY! NOOOO!’ when I sing and dance.

    Hope you don’t mind me linking to my post here (I’m v new to blogging!) but it sounds like you might relate to it:


  8. Oh man, I wish I had known about toddlerese a year ago!! I’m only just realising that I don’t have to be a martyr and it’s okay to get mad sometimes, so thanks for this post, it’s a great reminder that sometimes it all just gets too much and you need to do something to keep your sanity intact!

  9. I’m all for all the outside and nature tips. Mine are now way beyond toddlers and into teens yet I am still running Country Kids for outdoor fun because that need for outdoor time and freedom is always good for kids. #MBPW

    • The need is not only good, but I believe vital! I think people really forget how much kids thrive when they are outside – and their shift in behaviour the minute they get out is remarkable. I would happily live outside with my toddler if I could! 😉 Thanks for stopping by..

  10. Great list ! Handing them over is never an option for me.Distraction works well and does lying on the floor pretending to have a paddy myself! #TheList

  11. The getting outside and nature tips are unfailing ways to snap them out of their bad mood. Every time. I am also a huge fan of Dr Harvey Karp – that guy helped me get my elder son to relax and sleep as a baby – the 5 Ss – amazing. And a cuddle from mummy is always a great way to ease their stress. They often don’t realise they need it until you offer it to them, and they melt and are like ‘yup, I really needed that, mummy’. Great tips!


  12. Hmmm I don’t think I could do the whole Toddler-ese thing. I’ve always talked to Elsa like she was a grown-up, even when she was a baby, so it would be strange to suddenly attempt to simplify things!

    Depending on why she’s stressing me out I tend to either ignore her (if she’s being silly for no reason), distract her (if she wants something she can’t have) or get outside. Outside solves everything, usually.

    • I speak to E like a grown up 98% of the time – only about 2% of the time when she is having trouble dealing with her emotions do I have to flip into Toddler-ese but agree, it’s not for everyone! But yes, outside is the king of solving it all!

  13. I need that Happiest toddler book – the Toddler-ese sounds amazing (OK daft, but amazing!). Some great tips here – I need ’em all!

    Thanks for linking up to #Thelist xx

  14. I want that book…in fact I need that book! After 2 nightmare-ish days of tantruming (and very naughty) with 3 under 4’s, believe me I NEED THIS LIST!!!

  15. Fab list! Thanks for linking up to #TenThings 🙂 The go feed the ducks one made me laugh, I remember years ago my niece was screaming and carrying on, took her to feed the ducks – didn’t work, the only thing that cheered her up and made her laugh was me getting bitten by a swan! I’m amazed I went on to have two of my own children!!

    Stevie x #TenThings

  16. Such great tips, I am having a testing time with my toddler at the moment so will be using some of these, especially the wine 😉 #TenThings xx

  17. Today it was playgroup that saved me! A huge sports hall full of toys and other crazy toddlers was just what both of us needed for her to let off her steam! Love your list particularly the bit about singing to block them out! I’m using that one for sure x

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