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Beware the toddler tantrum

Stacey Fox, MD, FAAP, has tips for taming the toddler meltdown (from the Fall 2018 Beacon magazine).

IF IT HAPPENS to you, don’t be embarrassed.

It’s difficult to know what to do when a sulky attitude suddenly turns into a full-on, redfaced, screaming tantrum. How do you quell the rising tide before the theatrics start?

How do you calm the child without making an even bigger scene? Pediatrician Stacey Fox, MD, FAAP, of Beacon Pediatrics has these suggestions.


Instead of jumping all over the screaming child, take a momentary breath to gather yourself. “Once a tantrum is in progress, it is like a tornado. You cannot stop it. It just has to blow over. Be calm and patient, make sure the child is in a safe place (such as in the middle of the supermarket aisle), and try not to feed into it,” says Dr. Fox.


Children want to communicate their needs, but they may not yet have the language skills to do it. This is, as you may imagine, incredibly frustrating, and thus can lead to tantrums. Looking your children in the eyes and speaking with a soft but firm tone shows children that you hear them.


Remember, children grow up fast, and it is likely you will miss being able to take them to the store. If you can feel yourself losing control, take a few deep breaths and remember tantrums happen. If your child will let you, kneel next to them and give them a hug.

And, if you are bystander to one of these spectacular toddler tantrums, instead of looking down on the parent and child, put on your supportive hat. Perhaps give them a knowing smile. This is tough and loud, but it is normal, and this too shall pass.


Try to notice when your children are starting to get upset and redirect their energy if possible. Often, children feel they are not in control of many parts of their life, and toddlers especially crave control. Try to give your kids choices between two acceptable options, such as:
+ No, you cannot have the candy, but you can have either applesauce or a banana.
It’s up to you.
+ No, we can’t go to the park right now. Do you want to go play catch or play
with your hula hoop? You can pick!

Do this whenever possible, so your children feel like they have some control. “This small shift may make all the difference,” says Dr. Fox.

And, tune in every month to the #BeebeWomen blogs at for excellent tips and stories from the frontlines of womanhood.