33 Phrases To Stop Your Toddler's Tantrums

Here are some parenting phrases that can help increase a toddler's cooperation and reduce tantrums. The delivery of these lines usually goes better with a smile or goofy face.
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Here are some parenting phrases that can help increase a toddler's cooperation and reduce tantrums. The delivery of these lines usually goes better with a smile or goofy face.

For Bedtime

1. "It's bedtime. Are we getting to your room on our hands and knees or by walking backwards?! Your pick!"

2. "It's eyeball brushing time!" (Make a tooth-brushing motion over your eyes and wait for the... "MOMMY! Not EYES") Then, "Oh, you're right, it's ear-brushing time!" (More kiddo giggles with screams of "Noooo") Then, "I give up! What time is it?!" (Smile) "Toof time!"

3. "Pajama time! How about like this?" Put your child's bottoms on your head.

4. "Time to get out of the tub. Are you rocket launching (pick him/her up straight up with a "whooshing" sound) or submarining out? (stick one arm up high, rise slowly, making "beep, beep, beep" sounds)."

5. "Sugar-worm-blasting time." Make laser-ish sounds while brushing your child's teeth.

6. "Who is brushing your teeth? Mommy or your big brother?" That technique is a modified version of an either/or.

For Safety

7. "Tummy down, feet first on the stairs." Each time you go to the stairs, say this mantra, get on your knees, and back down the stairs with your tummy touching the floor. This is silly picture of me trying showing you what this looks like:


8. "Fingers up on the drawers." (Instead of "careful.") Demonstrate pushing a drawer closed with your fingers pointing to the ceiling rather than curled over the top of the drawer.

9. "Walking feet!" (Instead of "stop running," or "slow down.") You could accompany this with goofy exaggerated slow-motion zombie walking.

10. "Hands are for helping, not hurting."

11. "Sofas are for snuggling." (Not crawling/jumping)

12. "The throwing spot is downstairs or outside." (Instead of "no throwing.") or...

13. "We throw pom-poms (have a bag of multicolored pompoms handy) not _____ (toys/ books, etc)."

For Eating

14. Put a plate of cut vegetables at your place at the table and say, "I hope there are no vegetable stealers in the house." Then turn your back and do something else for a few minutes, while your little one giggles, eating the veggies.


15. "What do we need to add to make this food yummy?" If your child doesn't want to eat the food given to him/her. I give credit to Sarah Remmer, RD for this one.

For Hand Washing

16. "Clean hands are eating."

17. "I know you are ready to eat when your hands are clean."

18. "When your hands have been cleaned with soap, then I know you're ready to eat." This technique is called a when/ then.

For Tidy-time

19. "Don't put it down; put it away." I give credit to Rivka Caroline for this one. Make sure there is an "away spot" for every toy.

20. "It's tidy time. What two songs do you want to hear while we put things away?"

21. "It's tidy time. Let's see if you can put that puzzle away before I get these blocks in the bin."

For Pee-time

22. "Don't move! I have to pee -- get out of my way!" Instead of, "Do you have to pee?" or "Is it potty time?" Chances are good you know that your child has to pee.

23. "Pee-out time! I want to go first!" I recommend saying "pee-out time" each time you are about to leave the house.

24. Sing, "Who needs their pee out? Who? Who? Who?" to the tune of Who Let The Dogs Out. Bad rapping-dance moves work great with this one!

For Out-the-door time/Stalling

25. "It's out-the-door time in five minutes, which is when this song is over." Put a fun song on and as it is coming to the end, say, "Time to go -- make sure you are all done before the song is." I call this a transition signal.

26. "What do you need to feel done and ready to go?"

27. "Are you going to be able to come here to put your shoes on or am I rocketing you over here?" (An either/ or)

28. "Did you hear about the girl and her purple cat? No? I'll tell you about her when you are in your car seat." I give credit to Tina Payne Bryon, PhD for this one.

29. "Are you getting into your car seat upside down?" Wait for laughs... "NO Mommy!" Then, "How about tummy first?" And so on until your child demonstrates the proper way to sit in a car seat.

30. Oh, a back-arching, raging toddler can be gently buckled into a car seat by putting one arm under both knees and lifting the knees straight up (which will automatically push the child's bum into the back of the seat) so you can very quickly get your other hand on the buckle to snap it down. *Calming a child first is preferred, but, hey, if there isn't a chance that is happening soon and your older children need to get picked up from school, give this a try.

For Whining

31. "I can hear you when you use your normal talking voice."

32. "Sure, we can do that when you ask me with your normal voice. I'll wait."

33. *Whining is sometimes a child's rough attempt at communicating s(he) has a low attachment tank. Use one-on-one connection time to help the child feel seen and heard so s(he) doesn't need to use negative strategies to get your attention.

Do you have a phrase that works well in your family? I'd love to hear it! Please post it here in the comments so all the phrases stay in one spot.

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