The 4-Step Script for Tackling Toddler Tantrums That Every Parent Needs

You’re happily playing with your toddler on the floor, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their Lego creations when you look at the clock and realize that it’s time to start getting ready for bed—cue the meltdown. (How dare you interrupt playtime?)

Next time (and you know that there will be a next time) your sweet little toddler turns into the Tasmanian Devil, try this brilliant four-step script from the parenting experts behind Big Little Feelings.

But before we get into the nitty gritty, keep in mind that toddler tantrums are perfectly normal. In fact, they’re actually healthy. “Toddlers have a lot of emotion and energy and, just like adults, need a healthy release in the way of crying,” says Deena (a child therapist) and Kristin (a mom of two). But here’s the thing: How you respond to the tantrum can actually shorten the duration and the intensity of it (or, conversely, make it last longer and go harder). And how are you supposed to do that, exactly? By following this tried-and-tested toddler tantrum taming script in a calm, cool and confident voice:

Step 1: See them

“I can see that you really want to keep playing with your toys.”

Step 2: OK the feeling

“It’s OK to feel mad that playtime is over.”

Step 3: Boundary

“We are all done playing with Legos today. It’s time to put on your jammies.”

Step 4: Shift to the yes

“We will play with the Legos more tomorrow. What would you like to build tomorrow?”

The key here is to stay calm and hold boundaries consistently, say the parenting pros (because if you don’t, your little terror will walk all over you). So, why does this four-step method work? Because you’re supporting your toddler through their upset feelings by acknowledging them, while maintaining boundaries. Genius.

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...