The Sneaky, Smart Way I Learned to Handle Temper Tantrums

The Sneaky, Smart Way I Learned to Handle Temper Tantrums

When nothing helps tame your toddler’s tantrum, there’s only one thing you can do.


By Nicole Fabian-Weber

Toddlers are hilarious, adorable, sweet ... and incredibly frustrating. It's the phase of life where the dreaded temper tantrums begin, and anyone who's ever been on the receiving end of a toddler tantrum knows that they're certainly not fun to deal with.

My daughter recently turned 3. And while she makes me smile and laugh more than anyone on this planet, she's also in the thick of her tantrum phase. Sometimes, her outbursts stem from something biological, like a lack of sleep or hunger, but other times, they're completely random (to people other than her, at least) ... and they can be wildly difficult to deal with.

I've tried it all when it comes to dealing with temper tantrums. Negotiating, reasoning, ignoring, changing the scenery, bargaining, time-outs, time-ins, tight hugs, and so on and so on and so on. But when they're really intense, few things seem to stop them in their tracks.

So, I've learned to focus on myself.

A few weeks ago, my daughter woke up much earlier than usual and refused to take a nap. At around 3 p.m., it was Tantrum City in my house. Every small thing set her off. I had completely lost her, and nothing I did could reel her back in. To be frank, I was starting to lose it myself a bit. After futilely trying everything in my bag of tricks to put her in a good mood, I couldn't take it anymore. When my exhausted girl threw herself onto the floor and continued to whine and cry, I walked out onto the top step of the deck in my backyard, closed the door, and sat down.

It was a beautiful day out, and I could see through the glass door that my daughter, though freaking out, was perfectly safe inside. I took a few deep breaths in and out and tried to reset myself. I focused on the trees, the sun, the warm breeze. I was officially in a terrible mood, and I desperately wanted to get rid of the negative energy I was carrying. I knew I was unable to change my daughter's behavior in this moment, but I could change my own.

More from P&G everyday: Moms Tell All -- Revealing Their Toddler's Most Epic Tantrum

I put my head in my hands and took a few deep breaths. Suddenly, everything inside went quiet. I turned around and saw my daughter staring at me from the other side. She knew I was upset.

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I opened the door, and, without saying anything, scooped her into my lap. She put her head on my chest, and together we sat there, hugging in the warm sun. It was the first time she -- and I -- had been quiet and at peace in hours.

It took completely removing myself from the situation and focusing on how I could better handle it (instead of trying to control my daughter's behavior) for things to fall into place. As the old saying goes, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you respond to it."

I know that I won't always have the opportunity to go sit out on a warm, sunny deck in the midst of a toddler temper tantrum or incredibly challenging day of parenting, but when I do find myself in those situations, it's important to remember that when I've done everything I possibly could, the only thing I can deal with is my actions and reactions. And if that episode a few weeks ago is any indication, it seems like my daughter will then follow my lead. Or, at least, I hope so.

How do you handle your most challenging parenting days? 


Nicole Fabian-Weber is the mama to a toddler girl and a baby boy. She lives outside of NYC and writes for The Stir and numerous other online publications. Right now, she’s probably fantasizing about sleep.

Image ©iStock.com/LSOphoto


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It's been a while since I have had a young one in the home, but I have used all of these tips at least once or twice. These tips were right on the money with their usefulness. I would recommend this to young parents.

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