Toddler Tantrums can be SO difficult, for mamas and for the little ones themselves. Here are some tips to help
everyone through it all.
Tantrums are more likely to happen when your child is either hungry or tired. Preparing in advance when
possible and monitoring for their cues can be helpful for preventing meltdowns. Good nutrition can also be
helpful for behavioral issues. I recommend avoiding sugar, processed foods, and artificial colors and flavors.Some children are particularly sensitive to colors/flavors in foods. Children thrive on a diet of whole foods with good quality fats and proteins. Keeping some quick snacks around for emergencies can be really helpful; weusually do nuts and dried fruit.
Another reminder: communicate! Tell your child what you are doing and why. Explain as much as possible. Remember that modeling is the most important parenting tool you have. Your child is your best (and worst!) mirror. So model the behavior you want to see during YOUR times of stress.
Which brings us to mama self care incredibly important. I know we are all super busy, but investing a little
time into yourself pays off for your sanity and your family’s wellbeing too. When you feel better you can care for
In the Moment
Consider Dr. Dan Siegel’s advice to “Connect Before you Correct”. As ridiculous as it might seem, validate
your child’s concerns (“I know you don’t want to go home. You really like it here. You want to stay”). Show
empathy for your child’s “big feelings.” Think about times you have been really frustrated and upset, and
wanted to tell a friend or a spouse what was on your mind. Ever felt like you couldn’t relax until you felt “heard”
by someone?! Your child is the same way. You may even find that immediately after verbalizing their concerns,
they immediately calm. Explain what you need from your child, again, even if it seems silly (“It’s time to go
home now. Time to get ready for resting. I know you had a lot of fun here”). Invite your child to offer solutions
to the problem at hand when possible. This is often more helpful for older children, but can even have some
meaningful effects with toddlers. (“What do you think we can do about this?”) And then….repeat, repeat,
repeat. Eventually, your child’s tantrums will decrease, and you may even hear some of the same phrases you
used with your child back from them!
Resist the urge to separate. Consider learning about “timein” vs “timeout”. While timein can be more labor intensive up front, you are likely to have better long term results and less “drama” altogether. Read more here.
I know, I know…this is going to sound crazy! But we don’t punish, and if you do, you may want to reconsider.
The natural tendency is to parent in some similar way to how we were raised. It’s familiar, and most of us were
raised this way. Unfortunately punishing your child can change their motivation from intrinsic to extrinsic. In
practice, this means they might learn to do the right things, but for the wrong reasons. For example, being kind
to others simply because a parent is present, rather than learning to appreciate relationships with others.
Parenting with a focus on intrinsic motivation may take a little longer, but for us the philosophy is worth it. I
want my child to grow up making the right decisions for the right reasons.
Related to this, parents now = peers later. I would prefer my child take a little longer to figure things out and do
it correctly than “obey” simply because I say something. Why? Because the way your child may “obey” you
now is the way they are likely to respond to peers later. Yikes right?! I think we all want children that grow up
with the self confidence to make the right choices for themselves despite pressure from peers.
Consider not just trying to “survive” tantrums, but to meet your goals with your child in a way that is meaningful
to you. These suggestions are not easier or faster, but they do support long term growth and development, as
well as help to preserve the parent/child bond throughout the teen years and beyond.
Some of my favorite parenting resources:
Dr. Laura Markham - www.ahaparenting.com
Dr. Dan Siegel - No Drama Discipline
Alfie Kohn - Unconditional Parenting and Punished by Rewards
Attachment- Parenting International
We are big fans of essential oils and use them for everything. Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile
compounds from plants with all sorts of benefits. I love Young Living and feel safe using them for my family.
Here are some essential oil tantrum recipes to try. Some of my favorite times to use are for overstimulated or
overtired children, or difficulties riding in the car.
In a 2oz spray bottle, combine:
6 drops lavender
6 drops orange
distilled water to fill
Shake and spray on your child as needed, applying to clothing, blankets or to the top of their head or feet.
On the go
In the palm of your hand mix:
1 drop lavender
1 drop Peace & Calming by Young Living
Dropper full of carrier oil (we like fractionated coconut oil)
Apply topically behind neck, ears, back, and feet.
Happy Mama Oils
Joy by Young Living
White Angelica by Young Living
Stress Away by Young Living
Choose one, dilute a drop with a little coconut oil and apply to wrists or temples as needed.
Amanda is a physician assistant, fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil through the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. She is a North County San Diego mama to Zula and a distributor for Young Living Essential oils.