Exhausted and Confused?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.
Exhausted and Confused?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.
Exhausted and Confused?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Jeana says

    Wow!! I am so thankful this came across my email! My 2.5 year old who is the sweetest most loving baby in the world has turned into a tantrum throwing little dude! He is still sweet but there are certain triggers like leaving grandma’s house after I’m done at work, bedtime, breaking his perfect chip, etc. that have been setting him off. Now at bedtime he screams at us not to leave and I do not believe in “cry it out” so I sit in the glider until he dozes off. He then wakes up scared and screaming a few hours later and if I don’t get there fast enough he spits and goes completely off.
    My husband and I are trying to be patient but its tough and these tips will help us tremendously! I actually started calling my mother in law beforehand to prepare him for going home so that when I get there I don’t just grab him and go. Its much better when I do that.
    He is so smart and speaks so well but I guess communicating that is too much for him right now.
    He also just potty trained last month so there are a lot of changes in his little world.
    Thanks for the information!!

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Jeana – Oh, I so sympathize…I have three kids, and all of them had some wickedly awful tantrum spells. Sounds like you are right in the thick of it…hang in there! Thanks so much for commenting; I’m so glad you found this article helpful! 🙂

  2. Suzanne says

    My son is 2yrs and 3 months and takes terrible tantrum when his daddy leaves the house (he minds him). He throws himself on the floor and bangs his head. Hes been like this a few months and is getting worse. Hes not speaking yet so i know he could be frustrated too. Nothing seems to work.

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Suzanne – well, to begin, this is normal behavior for a 2 year old. Tantrums are frustrating, but they are also developmentally normal, so no worries there! Now, as for how to handle them – this article, on how to set limits for your toddler, may help: That will at least be a good start in helping you understand how to deal with the tantrum behavior 🙂

      Hope this helps, Suzanne! Best of luck to you.

  3. Victoria Roe says

    Having a nearly 3 year old we are in full swing of tantruming and I haven’t coped well in public when he ‘kicks off’ – literally!!
    However, yes taking a deep breath is a great help and if your toddler is having a ‘meltdown’ tantrum it is helpful, before it is in full swing, to get them to take a deep breath through their nose, whilst counting to 3, and then to blow out through their mouths. It is a great distraction from the tantrum developing, and will calm them down too!!
    It is so so useful though learning about different tantrums. Even though he is my number 3 child, I never knew there was more than 1 type of tantrum. I know deal with each differently, and he is so much better and able to nip them in the bud before they get out of control. Thank you!!

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Victoria Roe – isn’t that insight, about the three kinds of tantrums, just great! It was new to me, too – I came across it doing research, and decided I had to go back and update the post with it! Knowing that info is giving me so much more grace for and patience with my own 3-year-old (yep, I’ve got one, too – I fell your pain! And she’s also my 3rd kiddo – how funny!). Most of her tantrums are frustration tantrums, I’m learning.

      With her, I sometimes try to re-direct before the tantrum gets bad by doing something ridiculous and funny myself – I make faces at her, I pretend to throw a tantrum of my own, I start singing really loudly… It doesn’t always work, but it often stops the tantrum in its tracks and makes her start to giggle. That wouldn’t have worked with my older boys, I don’t think, but works for her – which means it works for me!! 😉

      Thanks for commenting, Victoria!

  4. Anna says

    Our daughter (2 years 2 months) switches tactics lately, between either tantruming because things aren’t going her way, or simply repeating “I not like it!!” and digging her heels in. (To which I quietly mutter “I not like it either!” under my breath.) We wonder whether this is a preview of teenage years…

    As others have commented already, deep breaths seem to work a lot of the time to calm her down. It depends on how far gone she is into the tantrum, but it is a well-used tool in our box of tricks. (In fact, she often specifically requests “deep…breath…outside?”, in between angry sobs during a tantrum. Months ago, she was very upset and screaming (the reason is lost to the sands of time), and I just needed a change of scene, hoping it would also snap her out of her anger; walking with her through the door, I made an offhand comment about taking a deep breath outside: Little did I know that this would become her favorite self-calming ritual!)

    There are times it would help to put myself in time-out to put my head in a better place for dealing with the tantrum. The question is where to safely put the toddler? I am hesitant to use her crib, because we spent SO LONG getting her to associate her crib with pleasantness and as a cosy place she loves to sleep. I fear creating an “anti-sleep association” with the her sleep space. Any thoughts on this?

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Anna – oh, this is a great question. I always used the crib, but I never made it a negative thing – I always said something like, “Why don’t you take a break in your crib with these books and toys?” Within 10 minutes, I would usually find the tantrum-thrower calmly reading or playing.

      BUT, I can see your point. Is your daughter big enough yet to obey an instruction like ‘sit on the couch for a bit and calm down’, or does she need to be put in some kind of enclosed area? Maybe you could start to create a special space (like the middle of her bedroom rug) that’s her designated ‘calm down’ space, where she can do whatever she needs to to relax.

      Sounds like deep breaths outside works pretty well, though – so if I were you, I’d just keep using that until it gets too cold!! 😉 Thanks for commenting, Anna!

  5. Carmen Andrés says

    Our son has had tantrums for a long time and they happen every time he doesn’t get enough sleep.
    One of us has to be the strong one, since it’s hard watching him go through that and seeing the little we can do to help him.
    I think patience is the number one tool you need to handle these situations accompanied with prevention.
    Thank you Nicole for always helping us with great information and advice.


    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Carmen Andres – well-said! Patience is indeed key when dealing with a tantrum-throwing little toddler. Thanks for commenting, Carmen – glad you found the article so helpful!

  6. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jennifer – Awesome! So glad Nicole & the team of sleep consultants was able to help you in your quest to get Aly sleeping well. And so glad to know that the advice and encouragement of other struggling moms was meaningful! Thanks for taking the time to provide this feedback, Jennifer! 🙂

  7. Jennifer says

    My Aly was from day 7 refused to have long naps 30-40 mins 3X a day and I came to this site and got amazing support. Through Nicole and her team plus other struggling moms, my little girl is now 3 months shy of her second birthday and Sleeping overnight 7 pm to 6 am. Naps 99% of the time is 2 hours. Thank you everyone! Sometimes its a lucky break that deviates from the norm, one night I was a bit stressed (around 1 year when I went back to work) and was holding her upright against me and needed to breathe deep, she started to copy me and calm instantly. Now we have cuddle time in her room and breathe and it does an amazing job no matter what happened 5 minutes ago. Great tips on this! I never thought of responding back ‘ are you mad because” and I will definitely start it!

  8. Kimberly says

    Been a nanny for 10 years and the biggest help for tantrums I’ve noticed is mirroring calmness for the child. I have found many tantrums stopped before they get full blown just be taking a giant audible deep breath right at the start of the frustration/fit. Most times the toddlers will do it too and in that half second calmness is when you can jump in and try to help them communicate what they are feeling slighted about (because when you’re 2 the world is against you and NO ONE understands lol)

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Kimberly – love this advice! Sounds like your 10 years as a nanny have given you some great insights into managing toddler behavior 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  9. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Emuna — Fabulous insight! And I like the way you put it: “Putting a label on it helps make the burden easier to bear”. So true! Thanks for sharing this tip, Emuna. 🙂

  10. Emuna says

    Something I’ve found really helpful that I picked up somewhere along the way is to say out loud to the kid what (I think) s/he is feeling. They don’t have the skills, as the article suggested, to process or articulate their emotions, but I find that if I say something like, “Are mad because you wanted to stay in the bath longer but Mommy took you out?” then my 2 year old will usually say “yes” and already start to calm down. Putting a label on it helps make the burden easier to bear.