It's easy to see why toddlers get over-excited sometimes.
New skills change every day and they need to find out how they interact with the rest of the world.
Then there's the social boundaries – children can't begin to understand why they shouldn't do certain things until they are at least three years old, which means that up until then, they might know something is good or bad, but the thought process that tells them a bad thing leads to hurting someone else, or to punishment, doesn't really compute. Hence clear, simple messages like the 'naughty chair' or star systems work for some parents use.
However, before you get too deep into crime and punishment, there are a few simple techniques that are worth trying.
Bear in mind that all children are different and a relaxing technique for one child might be just the trigger into a tantrum for another.
Change the subject
Whether a child is getting frustrated because a toy won't work, or they can't have what they want, try changing the course of events. Pick up your child and take her off into another room to do something else, or look at the situation yourself and find a positive new direction a game can go in if a favourite doll or ball can't be found.
Touch and feel
If your child is screaming or crying or simply boiling into a rage inside, try holding her and cuddling. It takes some strength when they're wriggling to get free, but a few gentle rocking motions and some soothing words or a song can really help.
Make sure you don't hold them too tight as this might make them more angry or anxious, but be there for them and let them feel your calm.
If singing try something soothing and uncomplicated, and stick with it for at least three verses before trying something else if it doesn't calm her down.
Watch your own body messages
If you are a parent who has never raised your voice or lost your temper - it doesn't have to be with violent actions or words - then you are a very rare thing!
Even without raised voices, a child can see if we are trying to rein in our rage. Red faces, stamping feet and ranting language have an affect and an influence on our children. And even though it is impossible to glide through life with small children in a permanent meditative state, try to cool yourself before reacting to their over-excitedness or tantrum.
If meal times or busy play times when lots of children are around get particularly frantic, think about the environment. Are they outside when it's too hot? Is the buzz of the TV helping to raise the noise levels, or cause friction over a choice of channel? Is the radio crackling away in the corner of the kitchen when you're having a teatime wrangle over eating peas?
It doesn't take much to get up and take everyone on a walk, just round the block.
Even if it's way before usual bathtime, if you have a toddler who loves playing in the bubbles with her toys, suggest an out of the blue bathtime. Get in with her if you need to cool off too!
If it's raining and the puzzles are getting a little boring, change your landscape. One rainy day with three 3-year-old boys, I suddenly declared the lounge was a 'cuddly jungle' and soft toys and blankets were gathered from around the house to turn our sofa into desert, the rocking chair into 'monkey mountain' and the space under the coffee table into the bears' den. I'm no Play School expert but it worked for long enough to get the kids' imaginations going, and the tidying afterwards was easy as it didn't involved paints, glue or glitter!
Painting, stirring cake mix, or putting a bowl of water in the back garden with some pots to fill and empty, are all good activities that children with can do with their hands rather than their emotions, if you have the space and time to allow them to get messy...
A bit of hush
If your child is in a real rage, she might not want to calm down quickly, but sitting her down with you and picking out some books off the shelf can really help. She might be too upset to sit and hear a whole story, but look at the pictures and talk about them, relate them to something in her own experience – a nice visit to the park a day before, for example – and take her mind off the present.
It is great if you can help your child to find her own routes out of an upset, although it'll be a long time before she can apply her experiences and self-knowledge without your support.
In the meantime, stay with her and bring her through this bad patch. (If you fear that the tantrum was just to get your attention, think about building in regular one-on-one time during each day so she doesn't feel the need to turn on the tears to get you to herself.)
If your child is overtired, you might want her to go for a sleep. However, try to distance the outburst from marching them up to their cot or bed, otherwise bedtime begins to look like a punishment rather than a place of comfort.
If your child had just got overexcited, quiet time will really help. If it was a tantrum or quarrel, you don't have to explore the reasons behind it. However, if you do think it's neccessary to ask your child why they got so upset, make sure you do this in a gentle way a good long time after they have managed to relax and calm their emotions.