55 Phrases to Stop Toddler Temper Tantrums
The dreaded temper tantrum.
The tears and moans over the smallest things.
The joys of a 2yr old’s emotional roller coaster.
Luckily there are some tricks to reducing the intensity and duration of toddler temper tantrums. Usually, if I can act excited about something else, the tears will stop and I’ll get my child’s attention shifted. And, if you can get a toddler’s brain to switch gears for a second, then you have an excellent chance of stopping the tantrum.
Toddler mood swings are intense, but they can switch from crying to smiling very quickly if you can get them focused on something else. Distractions that make them use their brains are most effective. Yes, toys and technology items can reduce a tantrum, but they are also rewards, so you may end up inviting more tantrums. . . Instead, encourage a shift in attention by activating a different part of their brain.
I hope my list below helps you too, because every parent hates tantrums. I feel like the worst parent ever when my kids act poorly in public, so if I can get them happily counting birds in the sky or looking for something red at the grocery store, I feel like a magical parent. (And the weird looks at the lady with four kids at grocery store stop too, which is comforting.)
So next time a tantrum strikes, first try to explain your rationale:
“Sweetheart, I can’t reach your toy that you dropped. I know you’re sad. I’m driving the car, and my arm isn’t long enough. Sorry kiddo, you’ll have to wait until we get to the store and then you can have your toy back.”
(And when that fails)
Distraction, Distraction, Distraction.
Try using exciting phrases like:
“I spy something blue!”
“Wow – did you see that outside the window?”
“Do you want to hear a story about Grandma?”
In a parking lot:
“What color is Mommy’s car?”
“What color are the tires on Mommy’s car?”
“Whoa – look at that huge truck!”
“I wonder if there is a cat by our car.”
“Let’s count the steps to Mommy’s car.”
“What do you see next to Mommy’s car?”
“Listen, do you hear the wind?
“Does that puddle have a fish in it?”
“How many cracks can we jump over before we get to the car?”
“How fast can we run to the car? Can we get there before the count of 20?”
“Do you hear that train?”
“I wonder if there are any butterflies by our car. Let’s go look.”
“Do you want to hold my right hand or my left hand?”
“I spy something shiny.”
“Help me find the yellow box of cereal.”
“What color cheese do you want to take home?”
“Who is taller – that man in the green shirt or the man in the blue shirt?”
“I spy the letter S.”
“How many bananas did we get? Count them.”
“Whoa – look at all those colorful balloons!”
“Which fruit starts with the letter P?”
“I see a bag with an animal that says ruff, ruff.”
“Listen, can you hear the wheels of the shopping cart?”
“Ooh, let’s smell those pretty flowers.”
“Which way leads us to the cookies?”
“How many shopping carts do you see?”
“What else do we need to make pizza for dinner?”
“Would you rather shake the box of mac ‘n cheese or the Cheerios?”
“Ooh, I spy Grandma’s favorite dessert.”
“The next thing on our list rhymes with bapples. . . that’s right. Apples!”
“What animal gives us milk? And what does a cow say?”
“What vegetable is the color orange?”
“I spy the number 5!”
“Can you help me find the spaghetti? Where should I go?”
“What’s bigger? This jar or that jar?”
“Let’s whisper in this aisle, we don’t want to scare the marshmallows.”
“Find the cereal with the honey bee.”
Anywhere (home, errand-running, in the car, etc):
“Tell me about your favorite pup on Paw Patrol.”
“Do you hear that music?”
“I forgot the words to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Can you help me sing it?”
“I wonder what Grandma is doing today.”
“I spy a triangle. Can you see it?”
“Find the red cup, and I’ll get you some milk.”
“Do you know Grandpa’s favorite song?”
“Look out the window – is there an airplane in the sky?”
“Should we turn on the radio loud or soft?”
“What vegetable should we water in the garden?”
“Does Santa Claus come on Valentine’s Day? (or whatever holiday is nearest.)”
“It’s lunchtime!! Can you get the peanut butter from the pantry?”
“Oh no, your dolly needs you!!”
“Wait, can you hear my phone ringing?”
“Let’s draw a picture for Daddy!”
If all else fails. . . start dancing or singing. That cheers anyone up!
How do you manage toddler temper tantrums with your kiddos?
I’d love to hear your about your parenting wins in the comments. Tell me below!