How to Transform Toddler Tantrums, Potty Training + Discipline

with Katie Kelley



Girl if you’re a mama or soon to be mama – LISTEN UP.

This episode is about to be your new best friend.

Have a child that throws tantrums quite a bit? No problemo – try repeating back to the toddler what they’re having a meltdown about- as many times as it takes – until they calm down and will listen to what you are asking of them. Let them know that YOU know why they are upset – even if you don’t change the circumstances around why they are upset.

Brilliant, right? 

Today’s guest, Katie Kelley – is a PROFESSIONAL at this.

You KNOW I love raising Lily + Luke. Seriously – the greatest honor of my life.

But listen, motherhood is NOT for the faint of heart. There is NO MANUAL for what to do when you come home from the hospital with your sweet, little baby!

From sleep schedules, to feedings, to sliding into toddler age – PHEW. IT’S A LOT.

So you KNOW I had to have on Newborn Specialist and Professional Nanny – Katie Kelley – to dish all the things on parenthood to take you from overwhelmed to IN CONTROL.

Katie, who you most likely know as Katie Sitter’s Club on Instagram, has over 13 years of professional experience as a Nanny and currently lives here in Nashville and works as a travel/tour Nanny for a family in the music industry.

And when I posted to Instagram stories to see if you had any questions you’d like for me to ask Katie – I was FLOODED with AMAZING questions from all you mamas and grammies out there.

Because we covered SO MUCH info – we decided to cut this episode into TWO PARTS so you can soak up all the goodness we chatted about.

In Part 1, Katie and I are covering:

  • Her 6 step, potty training bootcamp process,
  • How to discipline a strong willed child during a tantrum,
  • All things boundaries!
  • Table Manners + expert tips for everyone to enjoy mealtime and
  • What it means to give ‘parent approved options’


Tune in for all the amazing tips Katie and I discuss in the episode. I know parenting can be A LOT – but this episode is here for you to connect even more deeply with your kids and feel confident in your sweet mama selves.

And if you’d like more resources on motherhood – specifically – insight into my relationship with my daughter Lily – tune into THIS EPISODE!

Tune in for a special MOTHER’S DAY DISCOUNT CODE for all purchases online at (valid through May 9, 2021)







What are your three to four steps to follow when navigating a child’s feelings when they are throwing a tantrum and there’s no end in sight, especially when they’re strong-willed and sensitive?


I have a hack that I swear by with tantrums that I really do feel stops them in their tracks. I learned this from “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp. He compares tantrums to, if you go to the drive-through and you order your food and the first thing that they do when you order your food, is they repeat it back to you. So they say, okay, you want a cheeseburger and fries?


If they don’t repeat it back to you, you’re hesitant. And wonder if they heard what you said.

That’s what he says with kids when they’re having a tantrum and they’re telling you what they want, but they can’t have it. If you don’t repeat it back to them, they don’t think you hear them.

So my big thing is the second they start having a meltdown. You repeat what they’re having a meltdown about a million times until they calm down.


Let’s confirm or debunk this – Is there actually a middle child syndrome?


Let’s confirm or debunk this is there actually a middle child syndrome. What’d you say? Oh, Ooh, this is a good question. I think it all depends on the kid. I don’t think there’s a middle child syndrome. I think every, every family situation is different.


I do think second children are often your wild children.


How do you determine consequences by age?


I do think again, it depends on your kid.


There is a general rule of thumb for timeouts: a minute per their year of age. But of course – , you know your kids better than anyone and you know what works for them and what doesn’t.


I know with certain nanny kids that me taking away a toy is going to be the end of the world for that kid. If I take away a toy from a different kid, he’s not going to care. He has a million other toys and it means nothing to him. So really more so than by age is just learning your kid and knowing what they value and what works for them.


What if I’m not okay with letting them cry it out – is there another good option?

I understand a lot of people have a hard time with crying it out and you can still get results without letting your kid cry it out.


But I always say you need to let them fuss, to let them attempt to figure it out themselves before you go running in. That’s a really, a golden rule for me: I’m going to give you some time to try to work it out yourself. And if you get to the point of inconsolable where you are losing it, then I’ll intervene.


And that’s not you letting your kid cry it out, but you also need to remember that their only way of communicating is crying


So even if your kid is screaming, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for them. It just means I’m upset, I don’t like this situation right now, or I don’t know what’s going on.


And whether you choose to go in and help them right then in that situation or not, that’s totally your call, but they’re not going to hate you for it. It’s just their way of talking.


Tips to taking your toddler to dinner without pulling out the tablet?

Something you can start implementing from nine months old is when they start sitting at a high chair with you at a restaurant is you simply entertain them. You make them a part of the conversation. You talk with them. I play a game at the table when they’re a little older where I’ll have the salt and pepper shaker and a fork, and I’ll say, ‘Okay, do you see these? Okay, close your eyes,’ and I’ll pull one away and I’ll say, ‘Okay, what’s missing?’

There are so many ways you can entertain your kids. While having them be respectful at a table, engage with people, without them having to have their face in a tablet. If you have started that habit, it is hard to kick because they’re used to it and it’s exciting for them. And to them, it’s like, okay, a restaurant means I get to watch TV. But you can start weaning them off of that.


What is a tangible solution when my time toddler bites?

This is a really hard one to deal with. A lot of the times it’s just a phase – they aren’t biting out of anger, they are just biting to bite.

Redirect them to what they CAN bite. An apple, their food. THIS is what our teeth are for, we can bite THIS, but we don’t bite people.


How do you help children follow directions?

A big thing with kids is really just repetition and laying it all out ahead of time.

I always talk about what we’re going to do for the day, how we’re going to do it, how we’re going to go about doing that, what that’s going to look like so that they’re mentally prepared so that when we go into a scenario, I’m like, “Okay, remember how I said, we’re going to do THIS. Now’s the time we’re going to do that. Remember how I said, we’re going to hold hands in the parking lot. We’re in the parking lot now. So we’re going to hold hands and we’re going to cross the street.”

Same with letting them know when something’s going to end – for example, following directions when it’s time to leave somewhere – that’s always a really hard one for kids – so always warn them.

I always say, “Okay, you have two minutes left at the park. What are you going to do for these two minutes? Okay. You have one minute left, go pick your last thing. What do you want to do? Okay. Now we’re going to go.”

So when they know ahead of time, what’s coming and what to expect – they usually follow directions a lot better.


My baby was the sweetest, but somehow turned into a dramatic toddler. What do I do when they push back on all the boundaries?

Stay firm in your boundaries! Don’t change because they change.

Foster independence, but give them options that work for you. For instance, I’m going to let you dress yourself, but I’m going to give you two weather appropriate options and you can pick one of those.

And kids get overwhelmed really easy. So if you say, “Okay, go pick something to wear” – in their whole closet – that’s when you end up with a kid in a tank top and it’s 30 degrees outside and they don’t understand why you’re telling them they can’t wear that.

So now the child is thinking, “Hey, you just told me to go pick something out. And this is what I picked. What’s wrong?”

So, instead – give options that let them still feel like they have that power and they have that control. But technically you have the control.


Tell me your potty training bootcamp process.

I am a huge, huge proponent of we are stripping the child down, naked, and we are locking ourselves in the house for three days. I get a little potty and I put it in the room we’re in. And then I put a little potty just basically in any room that I know we’re going to be in.

Every 15 minutes I’m setting a timer and we’re going to sit on the potty and we’re going to try. And if you try, you get a sticker, or you get whatever you get a reward just for trying. I don’t care if you go to the bathroom or not – if you sit for 10 seconds, you get a reward. It really motivates kids and gets them excited about it.


What is the right age to start Potty Training?

Ideally you want your kid to be able to communicate that they have to go potty or say potty.

But I am such a huge fan of doing it younger rather than older. So anywhere from 18 months to 2 is the sweet spot for me, where they get interested in going potty. You’ll see them come in if you go to go potty, they’ll start trying to take their diaper off, or they’ll try to sit or they’ll be interested in flushing the potty.

The longer you wait, I find it’s harder because kids realize what they have to give up to stop and go potty. So when they’re young, they don’t know that they’re missing out on play time to go potty, they’re just along for the ride. But when you have a 3-year-old and he’s having fun with his friends and you’re trying to stop him every 20 minutes to go potty – they’re over it.


Tune in for Part 2 next week!

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April 26, 2021

How to Transform Toddler Tantrums, Potty Training + Discipline


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