You’re familiar with the scenario. You’re seated onboard a plane, or in a supermarket checkout line. You hear the tell tale signs begin to start. The whimpering. The heavy panting. The sobbing. Then it begins. Within no time, the wailing pierces your eardrums and simply does not seem to stop. You know there’s nothing you can do because… well, it’s a toddler. And nothing can placate a screaming toddlers’ tantrums. You’re just glad it’s not your child.

Except it is.

How to Manage and Discipline Kids Who Ignore Consequences?

Temper tantrums are an inevitable fact of every parent’s life, and an unpleasant one at that. It’s not just the sense of public embarrassment. In fact, far from it. It’s the fact you know there is nothing you can do to soothe your toddler’s nerves. But do you wonder if other parents have to put up with the severity you do?

They do. Tantrums are a coping mechanism for toddlers. Developmentally, they’re coming to terms with the process of socialization. Sharing. Patience. Manners. Waiting. To a toddler, temper tantrums are a perfectly logical reaction. They want what they wantand they want it now.

To you, it’s a headache. What’s worse? It’s a heartache. As a parent, you want to allay your child’s worries. In fact, you’d like to give them anything in the world they want. But for now? You simply want to know if there’s a way to manage your child’s temper tantrums. 

There is. Several, to be precise…

Temper Tantrum Tip # 1 : An Ounce Of Prevention

Temper tantrums are first and foremost a reaction. They don’t just spring up out of the blue. Your child is responding either to outside stimuli or (more frequently) the loss of it. Reactions are like clockwork. They occur regularly.

You can help minimize reactions by preparing for them. Is there a toy they refuse to share with a sibling? Let them know it belongs to them both, and schedule specific times of the day each are allowed to play with it. If they insist on dressing themselves, make certain their clothes are loose and comfortable enough to put on without struggle. If they’re cranky upon waking, make certain you plan any regular errands with them an hour after nap time. As difficult as it might seem, schedule any and all routines around your toddler’s schedule. It’ll wind up saving both of you a heap of frustration in the end.

Temper Tantrum Tip # 2 : Set And Enforce Boundaries

One of the main causes that sets off a tantrum is uncertainty. Your toddler isn’t sure if they’re going to get that favorite toy back. They’re not certain how much longer they’re going to be waiting in line. And they’re definitely not certain what to expect at their doctor’s visit (booster shots… ouch!).

If there’s one thing toddlers thrive on, it’s routine. Remember, they’re still coming to terms with boundaries and need them to be clear and distinct. You can prevent any friction by setting  unquestionable guidelines for your child ahead of time. Let them know exactly what to expect in any given situation. Make certain to answer any and all questions calmly and logically… even the dreaded “But, why?” They’re looking to you for their emotional roadmap. Provide them with one.

Temper Tantrum Tip # 3 : In Praise Of The Opposite

While there’s nothing more selfish than a temper tantrum, toddlers still want to please their parents at heart. But frequently, they simply don’t know how.

Encourage good behavior by frequent praise. If they manage to follow your rules, let them know how proud of them you are. Especially if they manage not to have a meltdown at their usual time (or what is frequently referred to as Toddler Standard Time). Set up a reward system if they manage to do chores without being asked. Indicate your surprise and delight. The need for appreciation is a common human trait, and one that’s not learned. It’s inherent.

Temper Tantrum Tip # 4 : What Are Their Options?

It’s important to remember your child’s at an age in which they’re first becoming self aware. And to test this self awareness, they need to assert their independence.

One of the biggest tests of independence is the right to exercise choice. For a toddler, choices are limited. Toy A or Toy B. A red sippy cup or a blue one. Extend this to their tantrums by offering both a reward or a lack of it. Let them know that if they share their toys, they can have their favorite dessert after dinner. If they don’t, there will be no dessert at all. If they’re quiet on the way to Grandma’s, they can watch their favorite movie. If not, no movies at all. Do not, however, offer a choice which is the lesser of two evils. The idea is to soothe a tantrum by instilling patience—not instigating fear.

Temper Tantrum Tip # 5 : To Direct, Redirect

Toddlers have extremely short attention spans. And while this might frequently seem like one of your greatest frustrations about being a parent, in the case of a tantrum you can use it to your advantage.

While it can work best if you have something familiar to offer your toddler (say, their favorite stuffed animal) when you’re grocery shopping or on a long trip, it can also help to divert their attention to something new and unexpected. Colorful packaging in the bread aisle. A squirrel hopping a fence. Are you at home and they’re upset a sibling is playing with their friends? Offer them activity time at the kitchen table. Whether it’s momentary or lengthy, the key is to divert their attention as their tantrum is building; not in full meltdown mode. 

Temper Tantrum Tip # 6 : Depart, Don’t Give In

You’ve tried everything. Pleading. Cajoling. Distracting. Rewarding. But your toddler still simply refuses to give in. It’s the court of last resort. You have no choice but to diffuse the situation by removing it. Both of you simply have to pack up your things and go home.

Yes, it’s frustrating for both of you. You didn’t finish your shopping. Your toddler didn’t get their way. But it’s important that you both realize it’s not a punishment. And you need to emphasize that to them. Have a spot prepared at home in these occasions free of distractions, but make sure it’s comfortable. Have pillows on hand that they can cry into, and their favorite stuffed toy to calm their nerves. While time out zones aren’t an ideal solution, they can be used sparingly to some effect. Above all, reassure your child that it’s not punishment but a safe space for them to cool down. Make time outs brief, and welcome them after a meltdown with open arms and plenty of love. Hugging it out can be its own reward.

Need more tips on helping your toddler cope with growing pains? At Handprints Childcare, our focus is on helping children of all ages develop a healthy sense of self esteem, social skills and emotional security. With 14 different locations throughout greater Texas, we help children develop both moral values and knowledge through a hands on learning experience. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit