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How to Soothe an Upset Toddler

Did you know?

Tantrums usually happen between the ages of one and three and are a perfectly normal part of childhood development. They are most common in two-year-olds as their language skills start to develop. As they still can’t say what they want or how they feel, they can get very frustrated.

Photo by Zahra Amiri on Unsplash

Children can become upset for many reasons:

  • If they are tired or hungry, a snack or nap should help.
  • If they are trying to get attention, try to ignore the behaviour as best you can.
  • If they are upset because you refused to let them have something, stay calm. Briefly explain why but don’t give a long explanation. Quickly move on to another activity to distract them.
  • If they are upset because they have to do something they don’t want to, ignore the tantrum and wait for the child to calm down. Once this happens, make sure you follow through on the child completing their task.
Photo by William Fortunato from Pexels
  1. Assess why the child is upset.
  2. If a child is in danger of hurting either themselves or others during a tantrum, they should be removed to a quiet place to calm down. You may need to hold a child who is “out of control”. If this is the case, keep calm and explain “I know you are angry at the moment and I don’t want you to hurt me or anyone else. I am going to hold you until you calm down.”
  3. After the child has calmed down, give them praise for regaining control, e.g. “Well done for calming down”. Knowing they have acted out may leave a child feeling quite vulnerable, so reassure them that you aren’t angry.
  4. Enable the child to tell you why they were so upset and encourage them to express themselves in different, more productive ways next time.

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