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Managing Strong-Willed Toddler Behavior: Tips for Feeding and Taming Tantrums

Updated: Sep 10, 2023


A little girl eating a slice of salami

Strong-willed toddler behavior is one of the most challenging parenting issues to manage. As a parent, it can be difficult to remain calm and patient when your toddler is throwing a temper tantrum or refusing to eat. While managing strong-willed toddler behavior can be difficult, it's important to remember that there are strategies you can use to help make the process easier. Here are some tips for feeding a strong-willed toddler and taming tantrums with positive discipline.


Dealing with toddler behavior is a natural yet at times frustrating part of parenting. Toddlers often express their strong-willed nature through challenging behaviors such as tantrums, refusal to obey instructions, and overall defiance. While it can be difficult to manage strong-willed toddler behavior, it's important to remember that it's a typical part of the toddler stage.

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Reasons for Strong-Willed Toddler Behavior


Strong-willed toddler behavior is often caused by your child's developing independence. As toddlers grow, they are eager to explore the world and assert their independence. This can lead to strong-willed behavior as they test the limits of their autonomy.


In addition, toddlers may express their strong-willed behavior out of a sense of frustration or a desire to be heard. As they are expressing themselves more, they may feel frustrated when they are not able to communicate their needs or have their opinions respected.


By understanding the reasons behind the behavior and having a plan for dealing with it, you can help your toddler learn how to manage their emotions and behaviors in a positive way.


Benefits of Managing Strong-Willed Toddler Behavior


Managing strong-willed toddler behavior can have many benefits for both parents and children. By helping your toddler develop positive behaviors and coping skills, you can help them become more independent, confident, and self-assured.


Managing strong-willed toddler behavior can also help to build a stronger relationship between you and your child. As you work together to create a positive environment, your child will learn to trust and respect you as a parent.


Finally, managing strong-willed toddler behavior can help to create a more peaceful home environment. By helping your toddler learn how to manage their emotions and behaviors, you can help to create a calmer and more relaxed atmosphere in your home.


Tips for Feeding a Strong-Willed Toddler with Tantrums

Feeding a strong-willed toddler can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips for managing mealtime with a strong-willed toddler to build a better eater:

  1. Set boundaries and expectations before the meal. Before the meal begins, set expectations for how your child should behave during the meal. Make sure to explain the consequences if your child does not follow the rules.

  2. Offer choices. When it comes to mealtime, your child should feel like they have some control over what they eat. Offer them a few choices for each meal and allow them to choose which one they would like.

  3. Don't be a short-order cook. Avoid catering to your child's every whim. Instead, provide them with healthy options and allow them to choose which one they would like.

  4. Make meals fun and interactive. Make mealtime fun by involving your child in the meal preparation. Allow them to help with setting the table, stirring the food, and tasting it.

  5. Practice patience. Mealtime can be a challenge, but it's important to remain patient and calm. If your child is having a difficult time, give them time to calm down before continuing the meal.


A mother trying to feed her son while he covers his mouth

How to Tame Tantrums with Positive Discipline


Tantrums are a normal part of toddler development, but it can be difficult to manage them. Here are some tips for taming tantrums with positive discipline:

  1. Stay calm. When your child is having a tantrum, it is important to remain calm. This can be difficult, but it is important to remember that your child is expressing their emotions and needs your help to manage them.

  2. Acknowledge their feelings. Let your child know that you understand their feelings and that you are there to help them through it. This can help to diffuse the situation and help your child feel heard and understood.

  3. Set limits. Set clear limits and boundaries and let your child know what is expected of them. Be firm and consistent with the boundaries you set and explain the consequences if they do not follow them.

  4. Offer alternatives. When your child is having a tantrum, offer alternatives to help them calm down. This could be taking a few deep breaths, counting to 10, or going for a walk.

  5. Be consistent. It is important to be consistent with your discipline. If you set a boundary, make sure you enforce it every time. This will help your child learn what is expected of them and will help them to better manage their emotions.

Strategies for Handling Challenging Behaviors

Managing strong-willed toddler behavior can be challenging, but there are strategies you can use to help make the process easier. Here are some strategies for handling challenging behaviors:

  1. Stay calm. Just like when diffusing tantrums, it's important to remain calm and patient when your child is expressing any challenging behaviors. This can be difficult, but it will help you to think more clearly and will help your child to feel more secure.

  2. Offer choices. Giving your child choices can help them feel more in control of the situation. When you offer choices, make sure to provide two options that are both acceptable.

  3. Use distraction. Distraction can be a useful tool for managing challenging behaviors in young children. If your child is having a difficult time, try to distract them with a toy or a game.

  4. Model positive behavior. Your child looks to you for guidance, so it is important to model the positive behavior you expect from them.

  5. Praise good behavior. Positive reinforcement is an important part of managing strong-willed toddler behavior. Make sure to praise your child for their good behavior and show them that you appreciate it.

Understanding the reasons behind your child's behavior and having a plan for dealing with it can go a long way to help with your toddler's behavior challenges.


If you need help managing your child's strong-willed toddler behavior, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are many professionals and resources available to help you and your child through this difficult stage.


With patience, consistency, and positive discipline, you can help your toddler learn how to express themselves in a healthy way.


A toddler playing with a wooden train set

All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.


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