All of us with kids have been there: it’s already been a long day, and by 6 o’clock, everyone has hit their wall. The kids won’t eat their dinner, the baby won’t stop crying, and you just need a minute to go to the bathroom! When you have an upset child and don’t know why, it can be frustrating and cause things to spiral out of control.

Whether you’re at home, in the grocery store, or in the middle of a family photo shoot (*wink*) when your little one loses control, check for these four things to help reset the situation

1.    He’s Tired or Overstimulated

Even if your toddler has had his nap, he may feel overstimulated by a change in pace, new people, or a different schedule. Babies and toddlers thrive on routine, so if it gets rearranged, they may not tolerate it as well.

Try this: If you know you will be changing up the routine, try explaining what will happen ahead of time so they know what to expect. If possible, leave the rest of the day as similar to the old routine as you can – incorporate changes in small doses. Bring along their favorite lovey, pacifier, cup, etc. so they have familiar comfort items to turn to.

2.    She’s Hungry

You already know this, but hunger can hit quickly in children and erupt suddenly.

Try this: Keep nutrient-dense snacks on-hand at all times. Unfortunately, some of the more convenient snacks won’t satisfy their hunger and can actually amplify crankiness. Go for high-protein, healthy fat, and whole grain foods when possible.

3.    He’s Scared or Anxious

Sometimes your little one just needs a little extra comforting, but they don’t know how to say it. 

      Try this: Look for signs of hesitancy or nervousness. Get down on your child’s level and    ask them to talk to you about it. Ask if they feel scared or nervous. If your baby isn’t talking yet and you think this may be the case, take a moment to give them extra snuggles with their favorite blanket. 

4.    She Can’t Verbalize Her Wants or Needs

This is one of the biggest triggers of tantrums. Your little one gets frustrated with trying to convey their feelings, wants, or needs, and you aren’t able to discern them. Cue tantrum.

Try this: Try talking it out first. Instead of saying, “Use your words,” ask you child if they can show you. If they are so upset they can’t focus, try removing them from the situation or distracting them with something else first to restore the calm, then come back to the task later.