How to deal with toddler tantrums at Christmas


toddler tantrums at christmas

Toddlers, eh? Can’t re-wrap ’em, can’t send ’em back to Santa.

The Christmas and New Year period is prime time for adult meltdowns, let alone for the under fives. So don’t be surprised if you find your child is playing you up more than usual around now.

My book  Toddlers: An Instruction Manual
contains a whole chapter on dealing with tantrums, so I’ve adapted that advice with the festive season in mind.

  • Accept that at least one meltdown is likely, and it won’t be at a time that’s convenient to you
    Your usual schedule is all over the place and you may be travelling or staying with relatives. Many young children don’t react well to this much change, and being toddlers, will let you know about it. 
  • Don’t let them open all their presents at once
    Many parents are keen on the ‘wow’ factor of a big pile of stuff, but for little kids this can be overwhelming. Spread it out over a few days and don’t be surprised if your child is less interested in the toy you paid a fortune for than the cardboard box it came in
  • Anticipate tantrums before they happen
    If you know the Christmas meal is planned for naptime, or Granny’s house is full of breakables, plan ahead before this becomes a problem. Change the mealtime, feed your child earlier, do a swoop for toddler-unfriendly items. Plan a solution rather than complaining about the problem.
  • Get your toddler outside at least once a day
    If you see someone leaving the house, clamp the toddler to them with cries of  “Jimmy just loves to look at the Christmas trees!”. Then when they’ve gone, sit down and have a mince pie and a glass of Baileys. 
  • Don’t be a mummy martyr
    Accept offers of help, and if they’re not forthcoming then ask. Don’t end up cooking the dinner and childminding whilst also sweeping the floor with a broom up your arse. You’ll end up having a tantrum of your own at that rate.

And if all else fails, there’s always gin. (For you, not the child)


How’s your toddler enjoying the Christmas season so far? Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment


You can find more help on dealing with toddler tantrums in my book Toddlers: An Instruction Manual which is available in paperback and Kindle formats. 10% of proceeds go to the family support charity HomeStart.

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