How to Calm a Toddler During a Tantrum

parenting May 04, 2023

A toddler tantrum is a challenge many first-time dads face. For most inexperienced fathers, their instinct is to be louder and assert dominance by giving a stern “no” or “stop it” to their children. 

However, this doesn’t always work and could be detrimental to how your child perceives you.

If you need help and practical tips to calm a toddler or stop toddler tantrums in the first place, this guide is for you. We outline eight techniques you can quickly perform when your toddler’s having a moment. 

Save yourself the trouble and be the father your children will look up to with these tips.

1. Calm Yourself Down

First, you need to take a series of deep breaths and calm yourself down. Your child’s expression of emotion is not an affront, but rather a cry for help. 

To calm down your toddler, you need intense empathy for their situation. Toddlers are just children without a deep understanding of their emotions, and this is the cause of their tantrums.

By calming yourself down, you can clearly understand what your toddler is trying to communicate. 

Maybe something in their environment is causing them stress, or they are simply frustrated because their sibling took their toy. A clear head will enable you to understand what your toddler needs from you. 

2. Use a Calm Voice

Toddlers are still young and need guidance to develop a foundation for self-control. 

Your child needs to learn how to deal with emotions correctly, but this process will take time. You can start by using a calm voice when they’re having tantrums — this will help them understand that they’re safe with you and that their emotions can be managed through a calm conversation.

Working against your toddler will only make things worse. Avoiding power struggles and talking calmly can prevent your toddler from becoming more angry and escalating the situation. 

It’s also proven that toddlers listen more attentively when their parents speak in a calmer, more positive tone.

3. Get Down to Their Eye Level

The next thing to do is to get down to their level. You can do this by sitting in front of them or kneeling at their level. This instantly makes them feel safer and more connected to you now that you’re not towering above them.

Moreover, you can sustain eye contact, which is vital for effective communication.

Eye contact is integral for making a strong connection and understanding what your toddler is going through. 

It also shows that you’re actively listening and engaged in the conversation. Maintaining eye contact also effectively conveys your emotion and helps your toddler understand that you care about them.

4. Validate Their Feelings

One mistake many parents make is to ignore their toddler’s feelings immediately and shut them out. 

As mentioned before, toddlers are still young and often feel overwhelmed by their emotions. By validating their feelings first, you’re showing your child that it’s okay to feel emotions and they don’t have to be hidden or ignored. 

Moreover, invalidating their feelings would result in your toddler suppressing their emotions or seeing you as a threat rather than a safe space.

5. Offer Comfort

Another helpful tip is to offer comfort. Comforting your toddler in a way that works for them can go a long way toward calming their tantrums. This could be a hug, a gentle rub on their back, or an understanding smile. 

Physical contact allows you to connect with your child and make them feel secure in your presence.

6. Offer a Comfort Item

Another effective way to calm a toddler is to offer them a comfort item. You can give them their favorite blanket, toy, or stuffed animal. What’s excellent about comfort items is that they’re tangible, which your toddler can hold on to, press, or fidget with to relieve their stress.

Studies also show that comfort items can reduce stress by giving toddlers a sense of security. However, this only works effectively in younger toddlers, and it may not work if you don’t know their favorite comfort item.

7. Provide Distractions

When all else fails, distraction can be a great tool. If your toddler is still having difficulty calming down, you can try to distract them with something new and exciting, like singing their favorite song or letting them play with their favorite toy. 

Distraction helps redirect their attention away from the tantrum, which could help them become more relaxed.

However, distractions could quickly escalate to denying or invalidating your toddler’s feelings. Keep in mind that distractions are meant to manage your toddler’s tantrum actions, like flailing or screaming, but not to suppress emotions. 

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one that suits your situation.

8. Give Them Space

Like adults, toddlers need their space when dealing with a tantrum. Giving them space and time to calm down allows them to process their emotions in their own way. This allows your child to reflect and understand their feelings without any distractions or pressure from the outside world.

Make sure that you’re on hand to offer support and understanding when they’re ready. Giving them space is also an excellent way to help them develop long-term healthy coping mechanisms.

Calm Down Your Toddler Without Losing Your Sanity

A toddler tantrum is a normal occurrence and a part of the experience of parenting. As mentioned, tantrums stem from the toddler’s limited understanding of their emotions and ways to express them. 

As a parent, you should look closely at your toddler’s actions and listen intently to what they have to say.

It takes enormous patience and empathy to calm a toddler down during a tantrum. The tips above will help you understand your toddler better and manage their emotions without feeling overwhelmed. 

Remember that while the process is challenging, it pays to take each moment as an opportunity to learn more about your child and strengthen your bond with them.

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