Child Psychologist Flat Concept

7 Strategies to Help Upset Toddlers

Every parent or caregiver has faced the challenge of an upset toddler. On such days, it seems nothing can alleviate the grumpiness, frustration, or outright meltdowns. However, it is essential to remember that toddlers are learning to navigate their feelings and communicate their needs. Here are seven practical strategies to help transform your child’s tough day into a more peaceful one.

  1. Acknowledge their emotions
  2. One of the key strategies in navigating a toddler’s feelings is acknowledging their emotions. Toddlers have a broad range of emotions but limited vocabulary to express them. An upset toddler often feels overwhelmed and cannot articulate their feelings. Parents can help by identifying and validating these feelings. For instance, saying, “I can see that you’re upset because we can’t go to the park right now” can help the toddler feel understood and secure, potentially defusing their grumpiness.

  3. Keep a consistent routine
  4. Toddlers thrive on routine and predictability. Unpredictable events can make them feel insecure and lead to feelings of anxiety and grumpiness. Therefore, maintaining a regular daily routine for meals, playtime, naps, and bedtime can help keep your toddler calm. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for spontaneity, but the key daily activities should remain consistent.

  5. Provide comforting touch
  6. Physical comfort can help soothe an upset toddler. A hug, a cuddle, or simply holding their hand can provide a sense of security and calmness. However, remember to respect your toddler’s boundaries. If they’re not in the mood for a hug or a cuddle, a comforting word or sitting close to them can be equally reassuring.

  7. Create a calm environment
  8. A chaotic or noisy environment can overwhelm a toddler and exacerbate their grumpiness. Creating a calm and soothing environment, such as a quiet room with dim lights or a comforting piece of music, can help your toddler relax. A favourite soft toy or blanket can also provide additional comfort.

  9. Distract and redirect
  10. Sometimes, one of the best ideas for grumpy toddlers is to distract and redirect their attention. Offering a new activity, game, or even a change of scenery can help. This method can provide a mental reset and allow them to refocus their energy in a positive direction.

  11. Encourage physical activity
  12. Regular physical activity is another great idea for dealing with a grumpy toddler. It not only helps them burn off energy but also stimulates the release of endorphins, which can improve mood. This doesn’t necessarily mean structured exercise; even simple activities like jumping, dancing, or running around the yard can do the trick.

  13. Positive reinforcement
  14. Praising your toddler when they manage their feelings well can encourage them to repeat such behaviour in the future. This positive reinforcement can come in the form of verbal praise, a hug, or a reward such as a favourite story or a little extra playtime. It’s a powerful way to teach your toddler that managing emotions well has its rewards.

Understanding and Empathy

In the face of a toddler tantrum, parents often feel pressured to resolve the situation immediately. While prompt resolution is beneficial, it is equally important to approach the situation with understanding and empathy. An upset toddler needs to feel heard and comforted. While their reasons for being upset might seem trivial to an adult, remember that for your child, these are very real and significant issues. Validate their emotions, reassure them that it’s okay to feel upset, and let them know you’re there to help.

Sometimes, all a toddler needs is a break from their routine. A change of environment can provide stimulation and an opportunity to explore. This could be a trip to a nearby park, a playdate with a friend, or a simple family outing to a new place. This break from the usual can lift their spirits and provide a welcome distraction.

Although these strategies offer a comprehensive guide to handling an upset toddler, implementing them is not without challenges. Understanding these potential difficulties can better equip you to navigate the process and help your child.

  1. Every child is unique
  2. Each child is unique in their temperament, preferences, and how they express and handle emotions. A strategy that works wonders for one child might not resonate with another. It might take a period of trial and error before you discover what calms and motivates your child. This process requires patience and understanding.

  3. Inconsistent responses
  4. Toddlers can be unpredictable. A technique that succeeded in calming your toddler one day might not work the next, leaving you feeling frustrated. This inconsistency is a normal part of toddler development and does not indicate failure on your part. Toddlers are continually growing and evolving, and their responses will too.

  5. Tantrums in public
  6. Handling a tantrum at home is one thing, but an upset toddler in a public place presents a different challenge. The added stress of judgmental or sympathetic onlookers can make you feel pressured to quickly silence your child. However, it’s essential to remain calm, remember your strategies, and understand that many observers are parents who have been in your shoes.

  7. Lack of immediate results
  8. While these strategies are effective, they may not deliver immediate results. Managing emotions is a complex process that your toddler will learn over time. Therefore, consistency is crucial, and so is the realisation that progress might be slow and gradual.

  9. Impact of external factors
  10. Various external factors can affect your toddler’s mood, such as sickness, teething, or changes in the family like a new sibling or moving houses. These situations can make your child more prone to grumpiness and tantrums. Here, understanding the root cause of the upset can help you offer more targeted comfort and reassurance.

  11. Parental stress and exhaustion
  12. Dealing with an upset toddler can be physically and emotionally draining. Parental burnout can make it challenging to respond effectively to your toddler’s tough day. Hence, self-care is crucial. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help and take breaks when needed.

    Each of these challenges presents an opportunity for learning and growth for both the parent and the toddler. Overcoming them enhances your parenting skills and helps you build a stronger bond with your child.


An upset toddler can be challenging for both the child and the parent. However, with these seven strategies, you can help in navigating toddler feelings, and make the day more manageable for both of you. Always remember, your patience, empathy, and understanding, play a crucial role in helping your toddler deal with their tough days.

Also, don’t forget to enrol your kids at EuroKids, where each and every day will turn out to be an engaging and enriching learning experience for them.

Follow Us

Get Update

Subscribe our newsletter to get the best stories into your inbox!