13 - 15 Months

What to do when you lose it with your toddler

Every parent has moments when they lose their cool. Your toddler throws yet another bowl of berries on the floor and you say in a voice that’s a little loud and harsh, “UGH, NOT AGAIN.” Your toddler, startled by this loud voice, starts to cry. And you feel terrible.

You aren’t supposed to be perfect—in fact, there are real benefits to losing your cool on occasion. Your toddler learns so much by watching how you handle moments that don’t go the way you’d hoped.  

These moments offer a powerful and meaningful opportunity for reconnection. This process is known as “rupture and repair,” and it happens sometimes between parents and their children. A rupture is when the emotional connection between you and your toddler is disrupted, such as when you yell and your toddler becomes distressed or angry. Repair is the process of reconnecting, and it can be surprisingly simple. 

4 steps to reconnecting after you lose your cool

Your toddler will experience occasional ruptures in their connections with loved ones and friends. Learning that these moments happen but can be repaired will help them feel safe in their relationships.  

1. Take a moment

When you lose your cool, you’re experiencing dysregulation. Try to take a few moments to get closer to an emotional equilibrium. Breathe deeply. Put your hand on your heart and close your eyes. Walk out of the room and take some space.

2. Own your reaction and model your regulation

Get on your toddler’s level—sit at the table or down on the floor with them—and tell your toddler what happened and how you are both feeling. “I was so frustrated. I used a loud voice and that startled you.” Try showing them how you calm yourself down. “I’m taking deep breaths to calm down.” Or “When I give myself a hug, it helps me feel calm.” 

3. Comfort them

Tune in to your toddler. Don’t feel pressure to make them feel better right away—it’s okay for them to be upset or angry. Follow their lead, whether they need a hug, a distraction, or just to know you’re nearby. These are the moments of reconnection—showing your toddler that you understand how they are feeling. 

4. Extend the reconnection

If you have time, try spending a few extra moments doing an activity together once you’re both a bit calmer. Try snuggling with your toddler and reading a book or making silly faces together. Those cuddles and giggles will get the oxytocin—a hormone that helps us feel love—flowing in both of you and reinforce that sense of connection. 

Note to parents: If your toddler happens to see you lose your cool or get into a heated conversation with your partner or an older sibling, try to repair your connection with that person in your toddler’s view, too. Your toddler will learn that relationships are important and stable by seeing other people reconnect after a conflict. 

Learn more about the research

Feldman, R. (2012). Oxytocin and social affiliation in humans. Hormones and behavior, 61(3), 380-391.

Tronick, E. Z. (1989). Emotions and emotional communication in infants. American Psychologist, 44(2), 112–119.


Team Lovevery Avatar

Team Lovevery

Visit site

Posted in: 13 - 15 Months, 16 - 18 Months, Bonding, Social Emotional, Attachment, Lovevery App, Parenting, Child Development

Keep reading