Reducing toddler frustration because they aren’t yet talking

Blog Author By: teamrhinoltd
Reducing toddler frustration because they aren’t yet talking

Toddlers and tantrums come hand in hand. Toddlers have tantrums when they’re tired, hungry, missing mom and dad, or overstimulated. Not being able to communicate how they’re feeling can lead to some pretty big tantrums which can be upsetting for you and your little one. The scale of the tantrum can be more magnified for late talkers. A study by Manning (2019) found that ‘late talkers have severe and/or frequent temper tantrums at nearly double the rate of their peers with typical language skills’.

So how can you know if your toddlers tantrum is because they can’t communicate, and what can you do to help them? Well first of all you have to identify if your child is a Late Talker. A Late Talker is a child who is not yet talking but developing normally in all other areas. They have a good understanding of language, but they struggle to talk and this can be super frustrating for them. When they are not able to communicate their frustration with words, they can engage in other behaviours to communicate their frustration. Behaviours like crying, hitting, kicking, throwing things and even biting or scratching.

So how can you help your little one during these times of frustration?

  1. Be gentle on them: know they are acting this way because they are struggling to talk.
  2. Give them the words: when they grab, you can model the words they should use e.g. ‘’Mine’’, “My turn’’, ‘’Car’’ (name the item they grabbed). Model these words with no expectation for your toddler to say the words, especially when they are frustrated. When toddlers are frustrated, it’s even harder for them to access language.
  3. Use consistent phrases: it’s really helpful to use the same language over and over when your toddler is using challenging behaviours to communicate. Consistent phrases are things you say in a calm manner. Things like ‘’I won’t let you hit me’’, ‘’Wait’’, ‘’Relax’’, ‘’do you need time out?’’
  4. Ask them to show you what they want: let your child lead you to what he needs or ask him to point to it. Try and interpret any gestures or sign language he may be using. If you still can’t figure it out, try to distract your child with something else. If it was super important to them they will figure out a way to let you know what it was.
  5. Get support: If you’re really struggling and find your child’s tantrums are getting more difficult to manage, reach out for help. There is so much support available and your child may benefit from an early intervention program from a speech and language therapist.

Using the above strategies will help reduce your toddlers frustration and put them on the path to talking.

About Author:

Jessica is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist hailing from Ireland. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Speech and Language Studies from the prestigious Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, in 2015. After completing her degree, Jessica relocated to the UAE to commence her clinical career. From 2015 to 2021, she held a vital role at a school-based centre for People of Determination, serving a diverse clientele from 3 to 21 years old.



  • Speech Therapist