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Mother trying to soothe her crying toddler.

When Tempers Flare

Screaming. Crying. Stomping. Flailing.

My daughter is now 18 months old, and we are experiencing the joys of our first temper tantrums. Even though I know these outbursts are part of typical childhood development, I was surprised to learn they can happen at such an early age.

We are not yet near the 2-year-old mark, when we might expect the terrible twos. However, it’s actually common for tantrums to occur from 1-3 years.

Sometimes it’s clear what has caused my daughter to become so upset—not being able to complete a task she is attempting or being told she can’t play on mom’s phone— but other times, she is in total meltdown mode, and I have no idea why. These are the worst. I try to console her and redirect her focus, but without an understanding of the cause, calming her can be difficult.

Here are a few defusing tactics that work (some of the time) for us:

  • Make her laugh: Use a funny voice, make a crazy face, grab a toy and act silly—if I can just get her to crack a smile, usually things settle down quickly.
  • Suggest an alternative: If she is frustrated because she can’t do something or I won’t let her do something, it helps to give some other options. I list off all of the fun things we CAN do instead and cross my fingers that something grabs her interest.
  • Change of scenery: When I can’t get a laugh or find an activity to redirect her attention, we step outside for some fresh air. Ever since she was a newborn, taking her outdoors has always seemed to have a calming effect and it’s a good way for both of us to take some deep breaths and try to relax.

Despite my best efforts, sometimes nothing seems to comfort her. And that’s OK. During those episodes, I try to give her a safe space to work out her feelings. Although I’m always hoping for a quick fix, I get it, we all have moments when we just gotta cry out that tension and frustration.

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About Danielle Vigueria

About Danielle  Vigueria Danielle Vigueria is a new mom, step-mom, wife, and freelance writer. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia and a Master of Professional Studies in publishing from George Washington University. She recently traded her beach life in coastal Virginia for the mountains of Idaho. When she isn’t writing, Danielle relaxes by hanging out with her family, reading lots of YA fiction, and watching the deer wander in her backyard.