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Publication #FAR0017

Dealing with Toddler Temper Tantrums1

Diana Converse2

Most of us have experienced the incredible tantrums of toddlers. Now, remember, my children are perfect, so I never personally dealt with this ... Well, except maybe a time or two hundred. Toddlers have tantrums because they get frustrated easily and have very few problem-solving skills. Most likely, a tantrum will happen when toddlers are hungry, exhausted, or overexcited.

So what are you supposed to do when a faced with a tantrum? Here's a few recommendations from family life educator Diana Converse.

First, try to remain calm. Shaking, slapping, spanking, or screaming at your child will make the tantrum worse. Set a positive example for your child by remaining in control of yourself and of your emotions.

Second, pause before you act. Take at least 30 seconds to decide how to handle the tantrum. Consider distracting them or taking them to a private place to calm down. Also, you might just hold them. This can be comforting to children because they don't like to be out of control—it scares them.

Third, always wait until your child calms down before talking about the situation. You cannot reason with a screaming child. And, fourth, comfort and reassure your child that you still love them, even though you disapprove of their behavior.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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This document is FAR0017, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 081 and published December 2007. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Diana Converse, Extension agent III, Hillsborough County, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.