Toddler Talk – Avoiding Temper Tantrums

Photo by Caleb Woods

The language barrier between adults and toddlers can be frustrating.

The notion of receiving the blue cup instead of red being detrimental can make parents want to bang their head against the wall.


Now to the state the obvious…but we sometimes forget with our busy life schedules…

Toddlers don’t have to worry about a job, money or relationships. They are living in the moment, consistently figuring out the world around them. They want to be heard and feel like they have some kind of control in a world where they are so small.

Toddler Talk is actually rather simple communication once you train yourself to incorporate it among your wee one. Use this help guide to get through an exhausting day when meltdown and temper tantrums occur.

Give A Choice

I cannot express how well this works!

As ridiculous as it is sounds, giving your toddler a choice, the feeling of having some control in their life prevents a lot of meltdown. Let’s admit it, if we assume, they want the crust cut off their sandwich (because that’s how they wanted it last time…) THIS time they indeed will desire the crust stay intact, and there is no reasoning with a toddler.

Avoid the frustration…

Even if the choice is ridiculous, it works!

For instance, one time I gave my son a choice, “You can either nap or eat eggs.” Knowing he disliked eggs, he thoughtfully processed his choices and decided, “Nap.”

Warning: Don’t give them two sensible choice unless you are going to follow through with either choice.

The Public Meltdown

The embarrassing moment your toddler decides they want cookies in the grocery store and you give them the dreaded “wrong” answer… no.

You try to hush them, reason with them and sometimes just leave the store… annoyed by the judgmental glares…

The solution is a simple one.

Act like them. Seriously.

It’s sounds ridiculous but it works. Catching your tot off guard, suddenly given questioning looks of confusion through those teary eyes… is victory.

One of my favorite lines have become, “See that’s how you sound.”

When Toys Can’t Go With 

There is nothing more confusing to a toddler than when a toy needs to be left behind at its building of residence. (Library, friend’s house, daycare…store…) After all, everything is about them and belongs to them. “Mine.”

One thing your toddler will understand and have little argument over is when the possession needs to take a nap, go bye-bye, or stay with its family.

Allow your wee one to say there good-bye or good nights and continue to reassure confirmation as needed: “This is where his family is. We don’t want to take him away from his family.”

When the answer is NO

There is one word our tots learn faster than any other word… “No.”

Setting aside the doctor telling Mom, “No more monkey’s jumping on the bed…” When I our wee one is running around continuously telling us ‘no’ we can only blame ourselves for over using this word.

when we don’t want them to touch something, when they can’t have something, when they pull the dog’s hair, pick food off the floor, grab the toilet paper all over the house… “No. No. No… no.”

This word will begin to fall on deaf ears as eventually begin imitating by throwing ‘no’ back at ya. This becomes frustrating for you and your toddler.

“Why is it a no?”

Take time to explain in tot terms why it is a no, not just because you said so.

You have your tot’s safety in best interest, and explaining that the electric socket has dangerous electric currents that will cause big ouches (with sound effects), may sound ridiculous. They will even stare at you at their little brains are trying desperately to process the information… but they will leave that electric socket alone in the future. Might even try to explain to other adults why they shouldn’t touch it…

When a “no” arises it is usually a perfect learning opportunity and you’d be amazed how much these little people actually take in. 

Explaining that the toddler has to hold your hand through the parking lot because cars can’t see them and can actually hit them causing huge ‘ouchies’… makes them aware, understand you are protecting and gives them a reason why.  

Find other words and save “no” for emergencies. You will notice your tot responding to the word more effectively over time. When you need to stop them in their tracks no will work again.

When It’s Time to Leave

It’s close to nap time, they’re tired and they have to leave the place that is currently bringing them bliss.

You started the fuse when you told them it is time to go and when you try to carry them, because they are rolling on the floor in protest, they blow up.

I have news, the countdown undeniably works.

If you have been out somewhere and overheard a parent or caregiver giving the five-minute mark, they know it brings a little less drama.

Explain you need to leave soon, usually when the kids ask why I tell them the place is going to close soon. (Yes, sometimes I fib to make my day run a little smoother.)

The kids openly admit they don’t want to spend the night there by themselves when I ask…so they volunteer to exit the premise without backlash.

Don’t Be Beyond Bribery

Don’t be beyond bribery to smoothly get your way…sometimes.

Warning: be careful not to use this strategy often, the last thing you want is your toddler to associate defiant behavior with a reward.

It is best to use this tactic when you are still in complete control of the situation, or to avoid a meltdown that you know is inevitable from past experiences.

Sing for Distractions

You might feel silly belting away Baby Shark, but when you incorporate this tune with new words to meet your needs, “The answer is no…doo doo, The Answer is no… doo doo…”


“It’s time to go bye, it’s time go bye…B-Y-E spells bye… we really must leave, or we cannot come back… so let’s head to the car with your sack.” (sorry I don’t know what tune I made that up to… maybe I’ll you tube it and someone can tell me…)

From getting into a car seat to taking a bath… when the going gets rough it’s amazing how a happy, made up song can twist your tot into an agreeable mode.

In addition…

Remember to always pick your battles. When you have a reason to be upset or say no, you want to make sure it’s effective.

And May The Force Be With You!

Cheers to Keeping You Younger!


Published by TheCloverNook

A background in the video production for over twenty years, Rebecca Ann Price continues her passion for story telling with her creation of Realm Komiks. An active contributor to Thrive Global and blogger for The Clover Nook, she specializes in “ Keeping You Younger" physically, emotionally and mentally as we travel through life together.

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