Toddler Tantrum Throwdown


Who said the twos were terrible? Why do they call them the “terrible twos” when in our experience, the moment my son Connor turned 3 he seemed to morph into a toddler fit throwing fiasco. I’m not saying that the twos were easy breezy, but the tides seemed to turn at the age of 3. A lot of my friends have told me when he turns 4 it gets a lot easier. Dear Lord I hope that’s true.

Also, why is it that when I ask my kid to do something he has to be told a million times? If his Dad asks him once he jumps up in response – no problem. That seems to be another similar scenario among Moms I’ve spoken to. I don’t know if it’s the deep tone of voice or if Connor is just more afraid of his Dad than me.

I spank him. I discipline him too. So why am I the one that seems to get the short end of the stick?

It seems to get worse when we are in public. I have been on several grocery shopping trips and tantrums ensue. I used to laugh at those Moms when I was younger and childless. In my mind thinking “What is wrong with you lady…why can’t you control your child?” Oh silly silly me. I didn’t know then how hard it would be. What is it about shopping in stores that seems to bring out a tantrum in a child? Seriously, you would think that with all those strangers around the kid would be embarrassed or something? The stares, the snickers, and people walking around you thinking the same things I did when I didn’t have any kids. I even had a lady walk up to me in Target one day while shopping (Connor was crying over something or another) and said “Oh honey, I understand I have two kids at home”. I wanted to reply back with “Here want one more!”

Whether it’s not wanting to sit in a shopping cart, brushing his teeth, or not wanting to wear the clothes I pick out that day….at times it feels like anything could be a trigger.

But here’s what I’ve learned from some of the meltdowns we’ve experienced:

  • When I take Connor out in public now I make sure we have snacks.
  • I bring things to keep him entertained while shopping, such as a toy or his Leap Pad.
  • If we are at the store I let him help me shop and pick things out. He’s growing up and wants to be independent.
  • As part of the independence, he also wants to know what we are doing. So now we prepare him for the day each morning.

For instance “We are going to go home and you can watch a movie for 30 minutes, then put on your jammies, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, get in bed, say your prayers, then go to sleep. These small steps in preparing his mind for what is going to happen work WONDERS! He’s not taken off guard when we go somewhere and doesn’t feel trapped or forced into a situation. He knows what’s coming and that makes him feel better. We’ve had a LOT less fits since we’ve started doing this.

I know we all have tantrum horror stories we could tell. I sometimes call it tantrum turrets….it’s like they have no self-control. What I’ve learned is that kids need structure, they crave structure. When he’s prepared for a situation and when we take time out to include him he’s much happier and so are we!


What “tantrum tips” do you have that has worked for your kids?


  1. Three has been SO Much more challenging that two and I totally resonate with all the stuff you said!! All of a sudden THIS week it seems we may be turning a corner and we’re at 3 and 7 months. I agree, snacks and preparation for what’s next has worked for us, too. “one video then book and sleep time,” and I guess that’s how I like to be treated, too! Good word, Becky!!

  2. My 2 year old (and 2 months) is very verbal (Thank GOD) so this too has helped us with tantrums. Being able to tell him ahead of time what is in store and even giving him options (Do you want to go to the Dry cleaners first or the Library, etc.)when it really doesn’t matter either way, gives him some control of his situation. We really do the “ok, one more show or one more book, then brush teeth okay?” thing and he responds SO much better than me just telling him as it is happening. He’s a handful now so I HOPE in my case the 3s are not any worse than the 2s haha.


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