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  • Writer's pictureDr. Edan M. Alcalay

How to Manage Toddler's Tantrums?

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

It’s one thing to try to stop a tantrum while it’s happening, but how do we stop them before they even begin? Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Centre and The Kazdin Method® for Parenting the Defiant Child, says that the best way to avoid tantrums altogether is by offering limited, minor choices instead of telling your tot what to do (even if you are telling them in a polite, gentle way). “Choice among humans increases the likelihood of compliance,” he says, adding that “real choice” isn’t important – only the illusion of choice. For your toddler, this might be, “Do you want to put your toys away now, or after dinner?” rather than, “Put your toys away” (likely to be met with “no”) or “Do you want to put your toys away?” (also “no”). Then, when your toddler complies, praise her enthusiastically, to lock in the behaviour.

Choice applies to you, too – choose your battles to try to eliminate tantrums. When it’s possible and reasonable, try to accommodate your toddler’s desires. This might mean saying yes to ten more minutes in the park if you have nowhere else to be, or letting them dress themselves for preschool (even if they come out in a superhero cape, gumboots and a flower crown).

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