The best way to deal with toddler tantrums? Stop them before they start! One key to preventing tantrums is knowing your toddler’s tantrum triggers. Though your toddler’s triggers may be as unique as they are, there are some typical triggers that tend to knock tots off balance. Here are the eight most common avoidable tantrum triggers.

Tantrum Trigger #1: Fatigue

Many kids get ornery if they miss their nap or sleep poorly at night. Here’s how to figure out the ideal bedtime for your toddler. And, if your toddler fights bedtime, try these tricks for getting a toddler to sleep.

Tantrum Trigger #2: Hunger

We all get a little cranky when we’re hungry, and some kids get fussy if their meal is even 30 minutes late (the result of low blood sugar). To keep your tyke from transforming into a hangry beast, stash emergency snacks—like crackers, fruit, or nuts—in your diaper bag when you’re out and about. 

Tantrum Trigger #3: Caffeine and Stimulants

Many kids bounce off the walls after having caffeinated drinks (cola, iced tea, chocolate milk). In addition, too much sugar or decongestants in cold medicines can also be monster-makers.

Tantrum Trigger #4: Being Cooped-Up

Toddlers thrive on outdoor play. Little cave-kids who don’t get to roam the jungle (your backyard or the park) two or three times a day often get unbearably grumpy. Try to make time for outdoor play (even if it’s a quick walk around the block) every day.

Tantrum Trigger #5: Being Ignored

Toddlers often act up when we ignore them for too long. That is why feeding the meter by playing the boob and giving time-ins—several times an hour—can miraculously reduce your child’s need for time-outs. 

Tantrum Trigger #6: Being Overtempted

If you live in a house with lots of attractive breakables, your little one may just not have enough self-control to keep his hands off things. (So maybe put that super-tempting glass trinket out of reach…) 

Tantrum Trigger #7: Unexpected Changes

Shy or sensitive kids may go bonkers when they have to deal with unexpected changes. You can sidestep problems with these little “princess and the pea” people by reviewing your next day’s plan, mentioning any changes in routine that might occur. (Learn more about establishing toddler routines at every stage.)

Tantrum Trigger #8: Tension and Violence

Keep the peace in your house. Many toddlers model the violence they see on TV, online, or when their parents fight at home.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.