Oh, toddler tantrums, how I hate thee.
There are few things in this mom-life that are worse than a really bad toddler tantrum.
I can feel the anger and frustration building up inside of me like an old cartoon thermometer that is about to burst.
You either let your frustration get the best of you and yell at them (only to make the situation worse) or you give in to whatever they want just to get some peace and quiet.
Both are terrible options.
I absolutely LOATHE this situation and the horrible feelings that come along with it. Unfortunately, toddler tantrums are inevitable.
Luckily, with proper discipline, you can limit the severity and frequency of these tantrums.
Proper discipline will also give your toddler the tools they need to deal with their emotions, learn respect, trust, understand expectations, and become the polite and respectful toddler we all (desperately) hope they become.
Using effective discipline techniques can be extremely difficult for parents, but it benefits our children (and our sanity) in the long run.
I have always been motivated to learn how to effectively discipline without yelling.
I refuse to be the mom that has to constantly scream at my kids for them to listen or do anything I say.
It’s embarrassing, exhausting, and flat out not the mom that I want to be.
I have learned SO MUCH about effective discipline over the years, so I am sharing 7 simple steps that will show you exactly how to discipline a toddler without yelling.
1. STAY CALM
Reasoning with or yelling at a toddler mid-tantrum is completely pointless. They’re not thinking clearly, and if you get upset and start yelling, it will only add fuel to the fire.
Staying calm (but firm) will help them calm down quicker and avoid extending the tantrum with added stress.
Also, there are times that they act out just to get a reaction from you. If you react, it’s reinforcing that behavior and teaching them that is an effective way to get what they want.
TIP: Teach them to take slow deep breaths. I do this myself when I’m having a hard time staying calm. It leads by example and shows them an appropriate way to handle stressful moments.
Once they calm down, you will be able to talk to them and try to understand what upset them.
Yes, even ridiculous “wants” that make no sense. Like when they ask you to cut the crust off of their bread and then throw a tantrum because you cut the crust off of their bread.
Calmly talking to them about it allows them to feel understood and validated.
You will also be able to explain to them why acting that way is not appropriate and teach them a more appropriate way to communicate their needs.
They will be much more responsive to this approach.
2. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Toddlers want structure. Toddlers NEED structure.
They will test the boundaries to see what they can get away with, what is okay and what is not okay.
If they do something that is sometimes okay and sometimes not okay, it’s extremely confusing to them.
They are trying to learn and understand limits and expectations. If you are not consistent, you are making it VERY difficult for them.
Being wishy-washy or not sticking to your guns will completely undo any structure you have created.
This can be extremely difficult as a parent, but it will make your life so much easier in the long run. More importantly, it will benefit your toddler tremendously.
TIP: Avoid making empty threats.
Empty threats are detrimental to the structure you are building.
If you tell them that you’re taking away a toy unless they clean up their room, stick to it!
If they resist and throw a tantrum, do NOT give in!
Stick to your guns, because giving them their toy at that point is teaching them that they don’t have to listen to you when you ask them to do something, and if they scream loud enough they will get what they want.
I call this worst-case scenario in Mom-Land.
It’s incredibly important to have a united front between parents. If one says no and the other says yes, watch out.
You have just created a manipulating monster and they WILL be difficult to handle.
3. TIMEOUTS WITH A PARENT
Sometimes, kids get so worked up that they need a reset. (Don’t we all?!)
Remove them from the situation and do not give them the attention they are seeking until they calm down.
I don’t believe in locking a kid in their room alone, because I don’t want them to associate being alone with negative emotion.
Being happy and content on your own is a very positive and empowering thing, and I personally believe timeouts alone can counteract that.
Also, when kids are that upset, it’s not uncommon for them to throw themselves on the floor, hit themselves, bang their heads against the wall, etc. which can be very dangerous, especially if left alone.
Removing them from the situation and not giving them the attention they want is showing them that their behavior is unacceptable, but sitting there (quietly) with them lets them know that you are there for them.
As I mentioned earlier, once they calm down you can talk to them about why that behavior is not acceptable and teach them how to communicate their needs better.
While they’re still upset, I like to grab a book and just start quietly reading it aloud.
This allows me to stay calm, not react to the craziness of their tantrum, and provide a calming distraction.
It typically takes no longer than a few minutes for the tantrum to be over.
4. AVOID HUMILIATION
Public humiliation is one of my biggest pet peeves.
Obvious humiliation is just wrong, but even disciplining your child in front of others can be extremely humiliating.
Humiliation will cause insecurities and resentment in your child. This is not only heartbreaking but can cause them to act out as well.
I know it can be embarrassing if your child is not acting right in public, and we don’t want anyone judging us or thinking we’re not in control of our own children, so we yell at them to stop or berate them for whatever it is they’re doing wrong.
Instead, calmly remove your child from the situation and go talk to them in private.
This goes for family members and siblings too.
Disciplining your child in front of their siblings or other family members is just as humiliating, so take them into another room to talk it out in private at home as well.
They will respond MUCH better when you treat them with respect and dignity.
Remember: lead by example! If you want them to treat others with respect and dignity, we should be treating them that way as well.
5. NO VIOLENCE
This one is obviously a very controversial topic, so I will just give my personal opinion and beliefs on this.
I believe that using violence (yes, I consider spanking violence) is completely unnecessary.
I understand that people think the generations are getting softer, brattier, more entitled, and I completely agree.
However, I can pretty much guarantee that it isn’t a result of not hitting our children.
I can also guarantee that violence will not change that behavior in the slightest.
Yes, it’s easier to slap them around and instill fear, but I think that is pretty pathetic if you ask me.
We are the ones they look to for comfort, safety, and guidance.
Teaching them to love and trust in the very people who are hurting them is not only confusing and harmful to their understanding of love, but it also teaches them to resolve conflict with violence.
It is our duty to raise a decent human being and prepare them for the harsh realities of the world.
I just don’t believe violence is necessary to do so.
6. PRAISE POSITIVE BEHAVIOR
Toddlers aim to please.
They want to make you proud and see you excited and impressed by them.
Give them that satisfaction when they do something positive! It will encourage them to keep doing it.
It’s like when they do something funny and everyone laughs, so they keep doing it over and over to get that same reaction.
Use this to your advantage, and praise them for all of the good things they do! They will keep doing these things over and over as well!
When they’re young and just learning the ropes I like to praise EVERYTHING positive they are doing. “Thank you for being so kind!” “Thank you for listening!” “Good job picking up your toys, that is so helpful!” etc, etc.
I also like to end the day with some positive words and thank them for being so good that day, or if they weren’t, praise them for the way they corrected their bad behavior or find some way to end the day on a positive note.
7. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
We all know toddlers are sponges.
They will repeat everything you say or do, and that goes for behaviors as well.
If you are constantly reiterating that eating anywhere besides the kitchen table is unacceptable, but you are doing so yourself, you’re going to confuse them.
Your structure and discipline techniques will be much less effective because the message is not consistent.
Treating others with respect is also something they learn from you.
The way you treat your significant other, your friends, other family members, even your pets, they are picking up on all of it.
Be sure you’re setting a good example that is consistent with the behaviors you are asking them to follow.
This can be eye-opening because I never realized how many things I did that I DIDN’T want my kids doing! Being a parent is the most humbling experience, but I am so grateful for it because it has made me a better person overall.
I want my kids to be extraordinary. I realize that they will learn how to be extraordinary from me and my husband.
It’s difficult, but inspiring to know how big of an impact we have on these precious developing humans.
I hope you have learned how to discipline a toddler without yelling and will start using these methods TODAY! They really do work, so get started and let me know how it goes!
I would love nothing more than to know this helped a fellow mom struggling to navigate the slippery slope of toddler discipline.
Parenting can be stressful and exhausting! Always make sure you get time for yourself to make sure you are happy and healthy as well! 👇🏼