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17 month old night time tantrums: what to do?

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1. It is important that you establish consistent, regular nap times and bedtimes as part of your daily schedule, so avoid letting your toddler choose when he sleeps. Instead, let him make choices about parts of the nap time and bedtime routines, like which books to read, or which pajamas to wear.

2. Institute a countdown. Transitions are prime times for tantrums. When you’re moving from one activity to the next, or from the house to the car, or from playtime to bedtime, your toddler is more likely to melt down. However, if your toddler knows what is coming next, and when it’s coming, she may feel better about making the change. So institute a countdown before a transition takes place: “3 more books, and then it’s bedtime” or “5 more minutes to play trucks, and then we have to stop and eat lunch”.

3. Avoid attempts to reason with your toddler. Remember, your toddler is not a creature of logic. At all. So don’t waste everyone’s time trying to convince him of all the reasons why he needs to wear sunscreen, or why he needs to take a nap. Instead, calmly and firmly offer a short explanation that he can understand and then repeat it as necessary.

4. Remain calm and consistent. Witnessing your toddler’s tantrums makes you feel like your head might explode. But when your toddler is flipping out, it is important that you remain as calm as possible. If your toddler sees that she is not able to get a rise out of you, she will probably calm down faster.

5. Avoid overtiredness. Easier said than done, I know! But try to watch for your toddler’s sleep cues. Is she rubbing her eyes? Yawning? Looking glassy-eyed? If so, then get her to bed quickly. It is worth repeating: an exhausted toddler is more likely to throw a whopper of a tantrum before nap time or bedtime than a toddler who’s well-rested. So try to stay ahead of the overtiredness, and make sure she is getting the rest she needs.

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