Surviving the Terrible Twos Storm: Toddler Tantrum Triggers

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The Terrible Twos

As a parent with four children, I’ve been through the terrible twos my fair share and let me tell you – tantrums during this stage can make you feel like you’re caught in an unstoppable storm! My typically sweet little one year old would suddenly turn into an emotional tornado, throwing herself on the floor when it was time to switch activities. Mealtimes became a battleground of flying food. Bedtime meant endless stalling and meltdowns.

According to child development experts, tantrums peak during the terrible twos ages 1-3 because toddlers are developing independence and emotional regulation, but still lack communication skills. It’s completely normal for 75% of 2 year olds to throw two or more tantrums daily. Yikes!

The good news? These temper flare ups are temporary. By understanding the common triggers behind toddler tantrums and learning proactive prevention as well as responsive handling techniques, you can guide your little one through this stormy stage.

This survival guide will walk you through it all – from the developmental changes leading to tantrums to practical solutions for avoiding and managing meltdowns while keeping your cool. Just like remembering to pack toddler snacks and a change of clothes in a bag like the Skip Hop Zoo Toddler Backpack before heading out, having the right terrible twos survival tools can make all the difference.

Section 1: Common Triggers Behind Toddler Tantrums

Tantrums never come out of nowhere – they’re always triggered by an underlying cause. By identifying what tends to set your toddler off, you can get proactive about avoiding meltdown triggers. Here are some of the most common terrible twos tantrum triggers and how to handle them:


When blood sugar is low, toddlers have less control over their emotions. This makes mealtimes primetime for terrible twos tantrums. Ensure your little one isn’t hangry by scheduling regular snacks and drinks like mini Pediasure Grow & Gain Shakes. For picky eaters, try introducing new foods alongside old favorites.


Fatigue/Disrupted Sleep

Overtired toddlers are prone to acting out. Maintaining a predictable nap schedule helps prevent tantrum-inducing fatigue. Establish a soothing bedtime routine like reading stories together and limiting screen time before bed. A specially sized pillow and blanket set creates a cozy sleep environment.

Seeking Attention

fisher price laugh and learn puppy

Around this age, toddlers often throw tantrums because they want attention from caregivers. Try giving your tot focused one-on-one time reading, playing together with toys like Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy and activities like finger painting or playing with Play-Doh.

Transitions Between Activities

Switching gears prompts toddlers to dig in their heels. Ease transitions with 5-minute warnings, timers, and distractions like singing songs. Tell them the fun activity coming next. Bring a portable snack to bribe if needed.

Testing Limits/Independence

Your adorable tyrant is starting to flex their autonomy and push boundaries. Stay calm and consistent when enforcing limits. Acknowledge feelings and use phrases like “I know you want to keep playing, but it’s time to leave.”


Too much excitement and sensory input overwhelms toddlers, leading to tantrums. Limit screen use and transition to quiet activities before bedtime. Reading before naps helps toddlers unwind. Keeping playtime mellow also prevents overstimulation. The Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine and Night Light helps toddlers relax.

sound machine and night light

Now that you know what tends to trigger terrible twos tantrums, let’s talk about proactively avoiding those meltdown moments.

Section 2: Proactively Preventing Terrible Twos Tantrums

An ounce of tantrum prevention is worth a pound of meltdown cure. Putting consistent structures and engaging activities in place helps minimize terrible twos triggers proactively:

Establish a Consistent Daily Routine

Toddlers thrive on predictability. Maintaining a routine with regular meal, nap and bedtimes prevents hunger/fatigue triggers. Use a toddler schedule magnet to visually map out the day.

Give Transition Warnings

Cue your toddler in when an activity change is coming up using 5 minute countdowns. Timer apps, songs, and rewards like stickers also ease transitions.

Limit Sugar Intake

Excessive sugar leads to blood sugar crashes that fuel tantrums. Limit sweet treats and juice, opting for snacks like yogurt, fruit, and KIND Minis. Always have water available. The protein and fiber in options like Kirkland nut bars help stabilize blood sugar levels and curb cravings for less healthy snacks.

Engage Toddler with Activities

Keep your energetic tot happily occupied with games, crafts, and toys that build skills. Great options include play dough, Mega Blocks, magna-tiles, and activity centers like the Step2 Up & Down Rollercoaster.

Use Toddler Emotion Charts

Help your toddler identify their feelings and calm down with emotion indicator posters and books. Name the emotions you see them experiencing.

Provide Loads of Positive Praise

Reinforce good behavior immediately with descriptive praise like “You stayed so calm waiting your turn!” Reward cooperation with hugs, high fives, and stickers.

Toddler-Proof Your Home

Remove tantrum triggers like unsafe objects, unlocked cabinets, and electronics. Install door knob covers, cover outlets, and keep cleaning supplies locked away. Distractions like a toddler play yard corral keep them away from no zones.

toddler play fence

Ok, now you’re all set up to avoid meltdown triggers proactively. But toddlers will still flip out sometimes, so let’s talk strategies for handling tantrums in the heat of the moment.

Section 3: Handling Tantrums When They Happen

A 2-year-old girl throwing a tantrum while her mom tries to resolve it.

When your toddler inevitably loses it, try these tips for minimizing terrible twos tantrums without losing your cool:

Remain Calm

Speak gently and lower your voice as your toddler gets more upset. Losing control yourself escalates the situation. Breathe deeply and model the behavior you want to see.

Avoid Giving In To Demands

Giving in teaches your toddler tantrums work. Remind them of limits calmly and stand your ground respectfully.

Use Empathy and Validation

Acknowledge their emotions by saying “You’re really mad we have to leave the park, I know how much you love the swings”. This helps them feel heard.

Try Compromise Solutions

Offering choices gives your toddler some control. “We have to leave now but you can swing a bit longer tomorrow” or pick which errand to run first.

Distract or Redirect

Shift gears by engaging your toddler’s attention elsewhere: “Let’s build a block tower together!” Appeal to their interests or offer an incentive like a snack.

Give Space/Time Alone

If your toddler is escalating, sometimes it’s best to give them space to cool down alone in their room. Reconnect when the storm passes.

Provide Comfort Afterwards

Once your toddler calms down, give them a hug and reassuring words. “I know that was really frustrating, but you can try again.” Reset with a fun activity.

Whew, hang in there parents! The key is equipping your toolbox to handle those terrible twos tantrums. With preventive measures in place and these responsive tactics, you can guide your kiddo through the storm.

In Closing

The terrible twos won’t last forever. As your toddler’s language and emotional skills develop, tantrums will taper off. Until then, arm yourself with understanding of common triggers and proactive solutions for avoiding meltdowns, while also responding calmly when they inevitably still occur.

It’s not easy, but the tempest of toddler tantrums during the terrible twos does eventually pass. With the right preparation, prevention, and handling tactics, you can navigate this phase with empathy, consistency and your sanity intact! Just take it one day at a time, lean on other parents, and remember this too shall pass.

For more support surviving the wild ups and downs of the terrible twos, check out these resources:

Hang in there parents! Feel free to reach out if you need an empathetic ear – we’ll get through the terrible twos together. Just don’t forget to pack the snacks and timer for your next tantrum-filled outing!

Hey there! I'm Allen, but you can call me "The Corny Dad" from Canada. I have a wife and four kiddos. Yep, one's full grown, but they'll always be my babies. When I'm not doing something with my family or playing video games, I'm here, jotting down my bits of wisdom on this blog. From the fun stuff to the parenting chaos, I cover it all. Believe me, with the right attitude, parenting's a smoother ride and I'm here to help.

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