Help Your Toddler To Navigate Through Tantrums

Help Your Toddler To Navigate Through Tantrums

I hate to think how many times I said to my kids when they were little “use your words” when they were having an uncontrolled outburst (read: Temper Tantrum).

I thought I was helping, but I was likely just adding to their frustration.

You see, when a toddler is having a tantrum, they are actually trying to use their words, they just don’t have the right ones to express what they want or how they are feeling. Hence my tactic of asking them to use their words had an obvious flaw.

Recently, I discovered that a better way to avoid the outburst all together is to expand your toddler’s vocabulary, particularly words that are expressive so that they CAN use their words to avoid the frustration. In fact, there is research that shows children with greater vocabularies show lower levels of anger and frustration.

So, how do you increase the number of words your toddler can use?

I believe the easiest place to build your toddler’s spoken language is at the dinner table.

After-all, you have to eat, it’s a great opportunity to connect at the end of the day, and dinner conversation provides a broad range of both speaking and listening opportunities (spoken language skills).

Research also supports family dinner time as being a great place to expand your toddler’s language skills. Here Anne Fischel the author of Home for Dinner explains that it is even more effective then reading to them:


“Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud.”

So, I see family dinner time as a really efficient way to help your toddler develop the skills needed to navigate through frustration.

As a key part of supporting them, I think it is also a good idea to increase your use of emotive language in general. This will help to provide context when extending their vocabulary while giving added focus on understanding emotions.

Of course, dinner time with a toddler can be challenging, try to pick your timing, so they aren’t tired, this may be you sit and engage at lunch time instead of dinner for your little one. Remember to allow ample opportunities for everyone to listen and speak, not just your toddler – within this discussion rich environment their vocabulary has the opportunity to grow.





Back to blog