10 Ways to Deal with Temper Tantrums

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Temper tantrums are an inevitable part of being parent. While there is no way to prevent them, there are ways to help calm your child down when he is in the throes of emotional turmoil. Read on for 10 sanity-saving tantrum tips, and don't forget to leave a comment with your own tricks!
Angry boy with crossed arms
Stay Calm
When your child starts screaming, kicking, or turning blue, try to stay calm. Your toddler has already lost control of himself; he needs you to stay in control.
Crying boy sitting on mom's lap
Don't Yell
You may feel tempted to return your toddler's screaming with some yelling of your own. But seeing your anger when he's already got enough of his own will no doubt drive your child even farther over the edge. Your own yelling will tend to prolong your child's tantrum, because it will set him off again and again.
Crying angry little boy
Don't Try to Reason
Don't bother trying to reason with your child while he's having a tantrum. No toddler can listen to reason while caught inside the whirlwind of a tantrum.
Crying boy laying on stairs
Ignore the Tantrum
Unless your child is likely to hurt himself or others or break things, you should probably just ignore the tantrum until it goes away. If your presence seems to be aggravating your toddler's tantrum or you're getting angry and can't stand it any more, leave the room.
Crying girl with broken swing in background
Avoid Making a Scene
Try to avoid long, drawnout scenes in which you beg, bribe, urge, or command your child to regain control of herself. If you allow the tantrum to become a big scene, you will be rewarding your child with "too much" attention. (Sometimes attracting even negative attention is better than no attention at all.) Creating a scene will not only prolong the tantrum, but it may provoke repeat performances in the near future. If, however, you deny your tantrum-torn toddler an audience, she will call off the performance as soon as she can.
Happy mom and son hugging
Communicate Your Anger
When your child's comprehension improves, explain that his tantrum is making you angry (if you really are getting angry). Say that though you'd like to stay, you don't want to be in the same room when he's out of control and you're angry at him. Again, make it clear that you still love your child even when you're angry at him.
Alarmed child with crazy mom with pot on head in background
Get Silly
If you need to cut a tantrum short, try saying something silly to your child or making a ridiculous face at him. A particularly headstrong toddler will try to maintain his anger, but it won't be easy. Although your toddler may not want to let go of his anger yet, he can't laugh and have a tantrum at the same time.
Mad girl sitting with hand out
Don't Give In
Don't ever bribe your child or give in on the limit you've set just to quiet a tantrum. (Even if you realize that a limit you've set is unreasonable, hold your ground. You can always apologize later for your unreasonableness, but continue to be unreasonable for some time after the tantrum has ended.)

If you reward a tantrum, you will condition your child just like one of Pavlov's dogs. Every time your toddler wants something, she'll throw a little fit. So don't buy your child the candy she wanted just because she makes a little scene —or even a huge brouhaha. Instead, try to demonstrate that the tantrum has no effect on you whatsoever. It will not change your mind one little bit.

Punished child sitting in corner with head in hands
Don't Punish Your Child
A tantrum should have no consequences, positive or negative. It happens and then it's over. Life goes on.

The reasoning behind this rule is simple: tantrums should be treated like speed bumps. You may slow down and ease over them for a second, but then you get right back up to speed. They have absolutely no lasting power over you.

Besides, if your child is out of control, then he's out of control. Is this really a punishable offense? Probably not. The tantrum itself is probably frightening and punishing enough to your child without having you add further punishment to it.

Screaming toddler girl
Be Safe
Never lock your toddler in a room either to discipline her or to calm a tantrum. Not only will this forced separation likely produce hysteria, but it also makes it impossible for your child to atone for her misbehavior: to come back to you and apologize.