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How to Have a Calm Toddler to Avoid Tantrums and Meltdowns

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your toddler wasn’t crazy all the time?! Since they are still learning how to regulate their emotions, they can go from zero to one hundred without much warning. Surprisingly, there are several things that you can do to have a calm toddler.

Right now my daughter is 19 months old and we have been implementing these tips and tricks since she turned one. A lot of what I’m sharing comes from studying the danish way of parenting and the Montessori approach. We have been practicing gentle parenting, which has been really helpful in creating a calm environment for my daughter. 

But before I get into the 16 ways that helped me to have a calm toddler, I want you to know that my daughter is far from perfect. She still has meltdowns almost daily.

Implementing these tips doesn’t mean your toddler will never get worked up. Rather it’s helping them to learn how to act calmly when problems do arise.

16 Ways to Have a Calm Toddler

how to have a calm toddler

Like I mentioned earlier, using these tricks doesn’t mean your toddler will be perfect. To be honest, at first, it’s going to be really hard. They may not enjoy the changes. It took a lot of repetition and patience on my part too! So keep this in mind as you begin to add these things to your everyday life.

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1. Practice Patience

Did you know that you can start teaching your toddler patience? I was surprised to hear that they can start to understand this concept, but it needs to be taught. This required A LOT of patience for my husband and I.

When can you use it? Let’s say your kiddo has asked for a snack, but snack time isn’t for another thirty minutes. This is a great time to practice patience.

There are 3 things that have helped my daughter learn patience:

  • Counting + Taking Deep Breaths in between
  • Timer
  • Candle Blowing

Don’t expect your toddler to wait a whole thirty minutes for a snack, instead start off with smaller increments and work your way up! At first, she couldn’t count and breathe past 2 and now we are up to 10!!! This is where your patience and understanding is key.

2. Model a Calm Behavior

Why are some children naturally calmer than others? I really believe that it’s because their parents have created a calm environment and model this behavior well.

This tip will most likely be the most difficult because you have to change your actions. Give yourself lots of grace. After a while, you won’t even need to think about it because it will just come naturally to you.

3. Take time to Listen to Your Toddler

Oftentimes toddlers just want to be heard. They LOVE attention and seek approval, so if we are ignoring their outburst they will only keep carrying on.

I like to get down at eye level when my daughter is having some big feelings. Even when she wasn’t able to verbally tell me what was going on, I gave her the time and space to know she was being heard.

In the example of asking for a snack (over and over again), she will get worked up and upset if I ignore her request. Instead, I get down on her level and say something like

“I can hear that you want a snack, but snack time isn’t for 15 more minutes. How about we practice our patience and then draw a picture while you wait.”

4. Go with The Flow

Something that I learned from the Danish Way of Parenting is to go with the flow. Toddlers are learning to become independent little humans, we can’t always expect them to do what we want to do.

I talked about this in my gentle parenting post, but it’s important to be observing your toddler and help them to explore what interests them. This little tip of advice has saved us from many temper tantrums and if I’m being honest, she’s helped me see the world from another angle! 

5. Have Routines

You will hear this from just about every parent but routines are incredibly important for toddlers. They will thrive when they know what to expect and will often be in disarray when things don’t go to plan.

We’ve been really working on sticking to our routines. Sometimes we can only do our bedtime routine that day, but we at least try to keep that a constant. 

This has helped her to know what is coming. A bonus is that she is now super excited when I tell her it’s time for lunch or a bath, she knows what those things mean!

6. Acknowledge Their Feelings 

This goes along with listening to your toddler, but as you are listening you want to acknowledge what they are feeling. Even if you think they are being overdramatic, it’s most likely a very big deal to them. We want to validate what they are feeling help them to work through it.

I love the blog Big Little Feelings! They’ve helped me to learn how to notice, acknowledge, and work through my daughter’s big emotions. It’s honestly taught me a lot about what I’m feeling, I never realized the many emotions that we can feel on a day-to-day basis.

7. Give Options

We give my daughter options for everything. This helps her to practice her independence and helps us avoid a tantrum.

I like to only give 2 options. With too many choices, they can become overwhelmed. 

8. Establish Quiet Time

Especially if your toddler doesn’t take a nap, you should start implementing quiet time. This is a time when both you and your toddler enjoy some downtime. No screens or distractions. They can do something you enjoy or take nap, but whatever it may be it’s a time to be quiet.

We received a nap mat from Lovevery, which she enjoys cuddling up in and reading books! This helps her to know that it’s time to relax and be quiet.

9. Don’t Try to Fix Their Emotions

The more we try to control our toddler and their emotions, the more out of control they will get! I encourage you to go back to the blog Little Big Feelings and learn about ways that you can help them work through these feelings.

I often remind myself that my job isn’t to make them happy all the time, but it’s to help them regulate what they are feeling. This way they don’t go from zero to one hundred so fast!

10. Try a Calm Down Basket

This (and the next tip) is something new that we’ve been trying and so far my daughter is responding really well to it. After she is done having a meltdown or maybe she is really wound up, I give her a calm down basket. I actually got this idea from the Montessori In Real Life Blog.

I’ve included a book, puzzle, stuffed animal, and a pop-it toy. This gives her something to do, which will help calm her nervous system down!

11. Create a Peace Corner

As I mentioned this is another new trick we’ve been implementing, but we set up a peace corner. This is a special space where your toddler can calm down, play with their calm down basket, and reset their emotions. 

Don’t think of this as a time-out. We don’t use this in our house anyway, but this is a space that should feel safe and relaxing… and NOT like a punishment.

12. Get Outside

Fresh air can completely change your toddlers mood. Whether they just had a meltdown or you see them getting worked up, try taking them outside to play or for a walk.

I feel like if we don’t get outside every day, my daughter is just off. Try changing up their scenery by getting out and taking an adventure!

[Need Some Ways to Keep your 18 Month Old Entertained Outside? Check Out these 17 Toys!!]

13. Play Relaxing Music in the Background

I really enjoy playing instrumental worship songs in the background throughout the day. I notice that my daughter actually plays longer independently too! 

I like to think that creating a space that feels relaxing will help me to be a calmer parent and in return will help my toddler to feel at peace too!

14. Adapt a Montessori Approach

If you are unfamiliar with what Montessori is you can check out this amazing resource that will explain it in great detail. But for us, I feel like being Montessori-minded has helped my daughter to practice independence, which makes her really happy!

I’m not sure if all toddlers are this way, but the more choices, independence, and real-life activities that my daughter gets the happier she is! 

15. Use Gentle Parenting

Once again, I believe that a calm toddler is the product of calm parenting. We’ve had such amazing results with gentle parenting. It’s helped me to be a more relaxed and understanding parent. 

I think this parenting style has helped my daughter to be calmer and more willing to go with the flow!

16. Learn something from the Danish

Last but not least, we have something to learn from the happiest people in the world. With a title like that, they must be doing something right!

After reading the book, the Danish Way of Parenting, I realized that I needed to be more go with the flow. What was the harm in going a different way for our walk? Or stopping to play with the rocks for a few extra minutes? Absolutely nothing was so dire in my life that I couldn’t do that!


4 Tips for Parents When Teaching Calm Behavior to a Toddler

  1. Don’t expect them to be calm right away. It took several weeks before we saw any improvement.
  2. Having a calm toddler doesn’t mean they will be perfect.
  3. When a toddler is expressing their emotions, this is totally normal!
  4. Practice patience with yourself and know that you won’t do it perfectly either.

My Thoughts..

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge believer that having a relaxed toddler is just the byproduct of how we parent. When we take the time to slow down, listen, and notice our child’s needs, we can parent from a place of understanding. I hope these tips help you to have a calm toddler and enjoy this busy (and stressful) season of parenting!

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16 ways to have a calm toddler

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