Dealing with toddler frustration and tantrums

7 Phrases to Diffuse Toddler Frustration

Dealing with toddler frustration and tantrums is one of the biggest challenges in raising a child. An angry and frustrated child can be more difficult to deal with when you are in a public space and want your child to behave appropriately. As a parent, your goal is to diffuse your child’s frustration and not heighten it. Your child is still learning how to deal with and express their emotions. 

It pays to be extra patient when they are showing signs of frustration. You must choose your words carefully when communicating with your frustrated child. 


Phrases to Diffuse Toddler Frustration

Don’t let your anger get the best of you when your child is showing signs of frustration and having a tantrum. Use these effective phrases instead to make the situation more manageable.

  1. “I hear you”

A child having tantrums and feeling frustrated might not want anything to do with you, or they might not even let you touch them. However, this is not a reason to abandon them. 

Say this phrase to them to reassure them that you understand their frustrations and that you are there to support them. You don’t need to offer them help. Just let them know you are by their side if they need you.

  1. “You look frustrated. Can you try again?”

Toddlers need to know that you understand how they feel and that you are there for them. Even adults struggling with a particular task tend to become frustrated and lash out. 

These feelings could arise even when a child is doing a certain task that you might find easy, or that they’ve already done before. Certain tasks become difficult at certain times and scenarios. Make sure you validate what your child is feeling and encourage them to give it another try. It is a vital step to achieve a calmer state and be more successful in doing that task.

avoid using the word "no" when dealing with a frustrated toddler

  1. “I get frustrated, too.”

This phrase is another one that is effective at diffusing toddler frustration. Using this phrase on your child makes them feel better because you understand their struggle. Children are like most adults; they relate to others. When you let them know that they aren’t the only ones who are struggling, it helps diffuse a tense situation.

  1. “You are doing great!”

Aside from acknowledging their frustrations, remind your child of their progress on a certain task. Do not let their negative emotions overshadow their accomplishment. Use this as an opportunity to motivate them to continue because others can appreciate what they have done so far.

  1. “Do you need any help?”

Children feel more confident when they know you are there to support them. This phrase is not intended for you to jump in and give them a helping hand. But by offering help, you permit them to be independent. 

Most children will refuse your offer to help. It can diffuse a toddler’s frustration because their focus shifts from that feeling of frustration to trying to accomplish a certain task. 

If the child accepts your offer of help, provide the least amount of assistance so they can complete the task. Giving the child the opportunity to complete that task makes them feel more confident.

Diffusing a toddler's frustration

  1. “Do you want to take a break?”

Diffusing a toddler’s frustration does not always mean contending with those feelings at that moment. The more they deal with a task causing frustration, the more that frustration builds up. 

Encourage them to take a break and focus on something else instead. Stepping away from the situation causing them frustration allows your child to return to a calmer state. It’s never worth it to force a child into doing something that leads to frustration as that negative feeling only adds up.

  1. “That must have made you sad when…”

You need to respect and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Provide a space for them to voice their feelings by using this phrase. Using words to express how they feel will encourage them to use words instead of acting out their feelings of frustration. It will also make it easier to address the situation, so you know how to respond based on their triggers.


The Bottom Line

Adapt your use of these phrases according to specific situations. It is also crucial to avoid using the word “no” when dealing with a frustrated toddler. If you do so, it will only add to their frustration. Distract them with something else or give them another option, such as doing something later or after they finish lunch.

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