How do I stop tantrums from getting worse?

Dealing with tantrums is incredibly stressful on parents. Share your tips for preventing tantrums from getting worse and see how other moms are handling tantrums.

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30  Answers

43 24

I have found that the kids have tantrums because they can't cope with the situation or are really tired. I found if my kids were well rested they tend to be less likely to to have a tantrum. Pre-school/Kindy kids usually can only cope with a couple of hours out and about, before they need their own quiet time.
There is no point going shopping an hour before rest time with a toddler!
I also found that kids like to have a routine, and a bit of notice to start and stop things. For example, five minutes before we leave somewhere(or are going somewhere), I warn them, in five minutes we will be going. Then one minute before hand I give the warning again "We will be going in a minute". Then when the time is up - "Okay it is now time to leave and we need to pack up". Like anyone kids hate to be told - stop what you are doing and do it now without notice.

I also choose my battles. If it is really important (like health and safety), then I give no ground, however there is no point in getting into battles regarding things that in the grand scheme of things are not that important.

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3 24

as long as all the above are covered you should be free to ignore. It works best

40 28

I am extremely surprised only a few of you have mentioned about addressing your child's feelings in the process of a tantrum. Children have extremely strong feelings about things, which to a small child can be confusing and scary, and they need us to help them deal with their emotions. I think it is very important to let a young child know that their feelings are ok, and valid, and to allow a child to express themselves. Just because we think a tantrum is an over the top emotional reaction to what may seem to us as a minor thing, it is clearly not minor to our child. If my son starts having a tantrum, I validate his feelings first and foremost "I can see you are very frustrated/angry/upset, but I'm sorry, you can't have x/y/z" he generally continues on, and I say" yes, I can see you really wanted x/y/z, And you are very frustrated right now" then depending if he continues, I give him some time/space, (you could say I ignore him for a while) then validate his feelings again.. When he does calm down, we quickly discuss how he was feeling, and how that is ok, but reiterate why he couldn't have x/y/z..(or whatever the situation was that caused the tantrum). Hopefully each tantrum can be process for teaching him how to effectively deal with his feelings, rather than teach him that srrong feelings are not ok.

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15 35

Perfectly said!!! =] I couldn't agree more! I am an (currently,unemployed) Childhood Educator and single Mom of four (extremely unique) Children. My children are 3, 11, 15 and 18 years old. I have over 15 yrs. of experience working with children (of all ages). And I must (also) stress the importance of acceptance, as seen through the child's eyes! It really is crucial, and yet it's ironically, so easily forgotten (or unaccepted at all).

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2 37

WALK AWAY!!! Without an audience, even the littlest ones know it's not worth it. When they do calm done, offer them some water (healthy way to occupy the mouth) and talk softly, letting them know that you can't hear what's wrong when they use tsuch a loud voice.

18
1 0

I tell my little boy when he has calmed down that I don't understand when you scream or wine. That he needt to use his words so that mommie knows what it is that he wants.

13 18

I have 3 children and went through tantrum stage with ALL of them. If the tantrum is in the home, I would ignore them, they are throwing the tantrum because they didn't get something they wanted or they are wanting attention.
If the tantrum is out in public (store, my daughter did this several times , she hated being in the shopping cart), it may be irritating to other shoppers, but I refused to leave. I would pretend as if she was not screaming like a banshee and continue to get what I needed at the store. If you cave in and leave they will learn to get what they want all they need to do is throw a fit.

Sometimes it is hard to ignore them, especially when they follow you around screaming, but if you give them the attention they are trying to get you will reinforce the negative behaviour. Once they stop the tantrum you could try some positive reinforcement at the time.

11
5 27

My boy actually LoVES the supermarket, so the first tantrum he ever had there, i DID leave, and it worked because he desperately wanted to go shopping. another way is also to go outside and sit in the gutter ( an Ian Grant tip) and explain to them you can go back inside when they have calmed. kids hate the gutter. as my comment above says, i didnt leave the next time though. but anyways, good on you for sticking to your guns!

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2 3

Important to remember that all children are different & will react in different ways to different situations & solutions. My 1st child never tantrumed, The worst I got from my 2nd child was that he'd lay on the floor in a silent protest. When I walked away he'd realise I wasn't kidding around & would get up & follow me. My 3rd is going to be totally different. At 18 months he will already stand & scream for 20 mins if he doesn't like something. No amount of ignoring or walking away sorts it out. So I'm having to find new ways of dealing with it. Trial & error, there's no hard & fast rules in motherhood!

8
0 0

When my girls start to have one I send them to their room with the statement when you stop crying you can come out. I only had to remind them a couple of times that they are in control of how long they need to stay there. Without the audience they calm pretty quickly. Away from home, No, has to be no from day one. Never ever change your mind or you will not be in control outside the home. the louder they get the quiter I wisper in their ears so they have to quite down just to hear you. Remember anything you say has to followed through

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7 14

I give my 2 year old daughter time outs, usually in her room to cool off. Once she calms down we talk about what she did wrong and what she could have done instead. I have her tell me why she is upset (sometimes I have to help coach that out "are you upset because mommy wouldn't let you have a cookie? ")I give her a firm talking to but we usually end with a hug and an I love you. This works amazing and I have a very stubborn, strong willed, independent daughter, who can throw a good tantrum every now and then. Even when I have to resort to spanking (not for tantrums) we still end with a talk and an I love you. When it comes to public places I just ignore the tantrum til she cools off, then talk with her as well. I always make sure I'm at her eye level and she looks at me whenever I talk to her. This seems like it wouldn't work and may not once or twice but be consistent and it does!

6
6 13

Sounds just how my daughter & I handle things & I agree the usual reason for her tantrums are tiredness. We always talk, make up & have a hug after & I remind her I love her I just don't like her behaviour sometimes.

6 76

My daughter is now 4 and still throws the ocassional wobbly, but when she was younger and threw those big ugly tantrums, I would ignore her. When I was tired and would tell her to stop it and calm down she would get more wound up, so I did find if she got no reaction to a tantrum it would end sooner. But now she is older, I tell her to calm down, use her words and tell me what is wrong. I tell her that I don't understand what is wrong if she is yelling and screaming, she needs to talk to me in a proper voice. It has taken a while for her to get used to but now we can usually get threw a tantrum smoother and quicker if I stay calm with her and ask her to use her words.

4
2 4

I think as moms we sometimes tend to quickly dismiss tantrums without validating their source. We need to validate the child's feelings. explore options and transform behaviour. This morning my 4year old son was throwing a tantrum and because I was busy working on my computer I kept saying Tadi stop it or I am going to give a good enough reason to cry. Then as it went on I thought wait a minute you are an EQ facilitator yet you are not doing what you preach. I stepped up and went to Tadi and tried to start a discussion which was met by being ignored but I kept asking him what is wrong and that he must tell me so I can see if we can fix it. First he said he doesnt want to go to school, I asked why, he said he does it all the time, and I said I also go to work all the time except weekend and tommorrow is weekend. Then it was aunt (our helper) hurt my hand, then I said you tell aunt to stop hurting you you dont cry, didnt you tell her? No. Ok next time tell her. Then the actually problem came up, I dont have a green juice that all my friends bring with to school? Sigh. Ok Tadi did you ask for it, No mum, so I will I know you need it, Tadi: please mum can you buy me the juice. I did but I can see tht even if I had said next week I would have been met with positive behaviour, because we had a talk going. Its not so easy where you have 101 things tht need your attention, but it can help. Some of these tantrums are carried into adulthood, feelings and fears that were never validated and dissolved.

3
34 43

Wow Mavis, it really helped me to undertsand the way to deal with my daughter who is a very strong willed child :). Thanks for your comment :)

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6 60

Yeah I ignore ehr aswell, cos with my daughter prevention or distraction just doesnt work and the screaming could last 30-45 min, so I just turn my back to her and ignore her till she stops and says "Im finished now mommy".She sure knows what she doing:PAnd in public aswell we do the same cos i fell if i give in once will encourage her more:P

3
0 21

I have a very passionate, sensitive, and extremely intelligent 6yr old. If I ignore it it becomes a HUGE problem, sure tired and hungry make tantrums come on more easily but also with stress. The kid who didn't want to be his friend on the playground today, not being in control of his life like an adult. So we talk regularly about his feelings. From how was today at school to following up with did things go better today w/ _____? B/c then I know how his emotions are. Kids problems are small because they aren't ours. Not because they aren't important to them, they may very well be a huge struggle for your child no matter how silly it is to you. With communication we can work together to understand what he's feeling. When a tantrum starts, I calmly remind him "Kallan, I don't respond to this kind of behavior, I can tell you are upset right now and you are entitled to those feelings. But right now I'm going to remind you to take a deep breath, go wash your face if you need to and lets talk about what's going on before you find yourself with consequences you like even less." I have found that the temper over dinner choices are because he feels helpless to make decisions about his life, that he didn't want those socks b/c there is a string inside that irritates his toe. In life I won't be there forever with every decision. He can't just have a temper when he's upset, or hungry and tired and expect everyone to walk away, ignore it. The rest of the world doesn't care they just expect to to behave in society. Children have complex feelings just like adults. When we are consistent with our expectations for their behavior, and encourage them to think ,sort out their emotions as they have them, they become better equipped to understanding themselves in life. They have to learn to find their pause, catch their breath before they say something they regret, hurt something or someone else. When they don't manage self control, there must be consequences. Take away the favorite toy, tv, video game. time out/ spanking. What ever works for your child effectively. When you take something away, make them EARN it back. Give them clear instructions on how they can. They an clean up their toys, help with dishes and dinner, Yes even at 2 or 3! Get creative! Feeding the dogs and picking up their laundry after a bath can be quite a chore for a 5yr old and when they earn their stuff back it isn't as easily given up the second time. Life isn't free, and the sooner they learn that the better.

2
40 28

Very well said Christine!

16 28

Tantrums happen when children are in need of attention. So you give it to them. Wait, did I just go against every child psychology "genius" by saying to give children attention when they need it?

Sometimes a tantrum can't be helped. And some kids at certain ages are more prone to them than others. But for the most part, I've noticed that tantrums happen at the least convenient times, when you're not focused on them at a time when they need it. I have a 2 year old. He keeps me on my toes and really needs me, even though he is also very independent. He goes from zero to raging in about 2 second sometimes. I also have a 4 year old who doesn't throw a lot of fits anymore. He used to. That alone makes me feel better about my 2 year old because eventually he won't do those 2 year old things that he currently does.

My 4 year old understands that his needs will be met, because when he was 2, I helped him deal with his feelings and emotions. I showed him as much positive behavior as I could muster (although sometimes I admit to flying off the handle. Even that's a lesson to be taught, because I would apologize for my behavior). He is also better able to cope with having to wait for attention or having to get things done himself.

2
12 17

I never had one tantrum out of Master 8, however, Miss 2 is a completely different kettle of fish!!! She's never done anything outside of home (yet), but I will probably ignore her and continue what I'm doing, at home though, I send her to her room until she calms down (and she does it). I figure I don't want to hear it and no-one else should, she always comes back calmed, but if she does continue with it, she gets sent back to her room again until she is calm again.

2
0 1

When this happens, I model calmness, not speak too much and hold tight, literally.
I try to get to someplace quiet. Give a gentle but firm bear hug that says, i am physically here for you...i will prevent you from injury, my calm can rub off on you..You are safe. If she cannot or will not succumb to this...she will need to go to a safe place where she can "get it all out". Then talk about it when she returns to calm.

1
32 17

I have found that the kids have tantrums because they can't cope with the situation or are really tired. I found if my kids were well rested they tend to be less likely to to have a tantrum. I take my 3-year-old and put her in her room and tell her to come out when she has calmed down. It has become such a routine that when she gets upset she runs to her room and comes out a few seconds later saying, "I calm down mommy." In public I tell her, "I need you to calm down now. I am sorry you are upset but I need you to calm down." She buries her head for a few seconds then tells me, "I calm down." We always leave shortly after that so that she is removed from the situation that upset her.

1
2 11

She sounds adorable :)

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3 8

Mine throws tantrums to try and get his way or to get my attention. So I tell him he most welcome to throw a tantrum, but he has to go to his room to do it because i don't have to listen to it. When he is ready to be civil he can come out and nicely ask for what he wants. As for when we are going out, usually it is because he is hungry, so i try to avoid him going to long without something to eat. But if it is just to be a snot, I threaten (and have) to send him out to the car with my best friend who goes shopping with us. He is such a momma's boy that the just the threat of not being able to stay with mommy is enough to curb a full blown tantrum.

1
57 96

Julie Brown....I agree with you my two year old is the same way! He will throw a fit like no other. Some days it is worse than others. Some days time outs really work with my son and others it is like he will prove me wrong...He is a VERY STRONG WILLED little boy! You can tell him no about something and he will look at you and do it again just to see if you are going to get onto him. Some days just a simple pop on the hand will do but then there are others its like nothing I do helps with his tantrums and lowering my stress levels. LOL

1
2 11

My 2 year old son is exactly the same lol

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16 4

There are likely about as many ways to handle tantrums as their are children. Often the best way to avoid them with small ones is to be sure that they are well fed and well rested and have had some attention from you before you take them places or get busy with other things in the house. (easier said than done)

Also keep a food diary, many children have many tantrums when they eat certain foods. Depending on the child and the severity as well as the age of the child if they continue even though you do all you can to not encourage it, be sure they are well rested and so on and pay attention to their diet too you may want to consider that there may be something wrong as well.

I have a child who is bigger than me ( and my husband) and is 14 years old. He still has tantrums, several times a day. Finally the Doctors are listening to me, there IS something wrong, he is autistic. He is simply high functioning enough that they did not believe anything was wrong. They thought that I just did not discipline well or pay enough attention to him, neither of which was true. So….if they persist, they tend to happen especially in situations where there is a lot of stimulus and they seem completely out of proportion to what you have seen in other kids….something may be wrong. It would be great if you could get help earlier than I did!

1
2 14

Sometimes I wonder how parents handle adults when adults try to tell them something they don´t understand. Do they spank them, send them to there room or ... When kids have tantrums it is almost always because they think that nobody understands them. They just want to be understood. And they need help to understand themselves.
When I became a parent 20 years ago, my son had tantrums and I was angry a lot. My son showed me that he was afraid of me and I tried to change my behavior. I read Barbara Colorosos, Jesper Juuls and Kathy Lynns books. That helped me a lot. I started to try to help my child to understand himself and put words on his feelings and his needs. That didn´t mean he got what he wanted. It meant that he was heard and loved. By punish children they might stop try to show us who they are. Also they can try to find a partner who behave the same way as there parent. Who will use punishment. After the punishment they then want some sex because they know that the partner wants to say sorry with a hug. Even when a person have hurt them. Sad!

1
2 14

Marshall Rosenberg is also an inspiration to try to learn how to communicate in a way that gives contact and cooperation.

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48 0

I know it sounds difficult: but ignoring is always the best tactic. It's difficult because all you want to do is find out what's wrong...but honestly, you as a parent can tell if your kid is in pain/danger or just acting obnoxious for attention.

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7 13

When they are or are becoming out of control, help them learn to control THEMSELVES. This is NOT a time-out or punishment. Simply take them to their room or pre-selected area they can safely be alone. Tell the child that the behavior they were doing is not acceptable to do around other people and that when they are done crying/with their fit/etc and back under control they may come back out to join everyone else. Emphasize that they can choose when the come out by getting themself under control. Close the door as you walk out--just be sure they can get it back open. The first few times be sure to explain/define what you're looking for in "under control" (no tears, ready to play with others...).

This works so well, that my strong-willed 6-yr-old will still take herself to her room just BEFORE she looses it (even at grandma's) until she's under control.

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99 48

You don't allow them in the first place. Think about it. We, as parents, expect our children to change their behaviour, right? RIGHT. Well, if THEY need to change their behaviour, then....
SO DO WE. Because whatever it is they are doing wrong......then SO ARE WE. If they have to change something about themselves, then SO SHOULD WE. There is ALWAYS something we could be doing better. Don'tcha think so? I do. It makes sense after all.

And usually there is NOTHING you can do to STOP a tantrum. You have to just wait em out. Don't give in to your child's demands. Don't talk to you child while he/she is pitching a fit: your voice is irritating to your child when having a tantrum. NOTHING you do is going to help AT THAT MOMENT.

Let me backtrack. Don't say anything to your child EXCEPT something like this: "I cannot understand you right now. So when you are finished CRYING, then we can talk." Say it is a nice normal firm voice, loud enough for your child to hear, but DO NOT TALK OVER YOUR CHILD, because your child will only scream louder to drown out the sound of your irritating voice. I guarantee you....your child hears you. Then you let your child scream til the cows come home. Unless you are in a store or at an appointment or whatever: then you remove your child from the public place, take the child to your car, roll down the windows a 1/4 crack, and you and whoever else is in the car, STANDS OUTSIDE OF IT, with your back to the windows (turning and checking once and awhile to ensure that your child isn't giving it a whole new look with their feet and arms), and once your child's sobs are QUIETER (But not stopped), open your child's door, kneel down at eye level and say, "Are you ready to talk now?" If the child is ready and answers, then you are in business! If your child is still crying SOFTLY, then that's ok. I mean, your child is entitled to his/her feelings, right?

Then you should IMMEDIATELY hug your child. IMMEDIATELY. And don't tell them NO again for whatever they asked for. It will only bring on ANOTHER TANTRUM. You need to evade his/her original question, but in an HONEST way. It's called temporary distraction. Let your child know that his/her behaviour is not acceptable. That you WILL NOT give him/her want they want when they cry for it. Instead. Explain to your child that there has to be a consequence for his/her behaviour, but in this way: "I can give this to you after your bath tonight, but not right now, because of the way you just acted." Your child may start crying again. Fine. Give and TELL your child a choice then: "Ok, after bath, or not at all....after bath or not at all.....Use your hands to weigh up or down. Guarantee that your child chooses after bath. Give the good before the bad. Give your child the "choice."

Then after your child is in bed.......ask for Calgon to take you away.......good luck with that though.....I believe Calgon does not exist......!! (No one has EVER answered me anyway) :P

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0 15

For me the biggest things are being rested, make sure she eats when she is hungry not over hungry. Then if she still falls in to tantrum mode. I address what the issues that are upsetting her are. Conversation and communication help with cooping skills!

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0 1

I'm noticing the majority of children people are talking about are under 5. I have a 7 year old boy who will still throw a good tantrum, usually when he is tired and not getting his way. He will scream and cry, stomp around and throw himself to the floor. I send him to his room to calm down and so the rest of us don't have to listen, but he will not stay there; he will come out and follow me around. I have ended up leaving the house because I get so frustrated he will not stay in his room and will not listen to reason until he is calmed down. Any suggestions? Is it normal for a 7 year old to still throw tantrums like a toddler?

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0 5

It depends what the temper is about. But if it is a real frustration I talk to herr. If it is cause she will not listen, I tell her to go to her room till she is happy. I dont tolerate this behavior. It works.

0
0 2

you could either A walk away because that does help. (i know its hard when they throw themselves around and even hurt themselves) or B depending on age u could sit down and calmly talk to them even tho they might not understand you i found that my 20 month old will listen to my voice even tho she doesnt fully understand. and mu next step would be time out if u have a designated time out spot and put then in time out for one min for every year that may help too =)

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2 45

Kassi, Please don't think your 20 month old doesn't understand when you talk to her. Babies and Toddlers don't have a lack of understanding, they have a lack of means to express their understanding! Small children have an amazing capacity to learn language & ugel has been soaking it in since you were 18 weeks pregnant. She simply doesn't have the motor skills to tell you exactly what she understands. Keep talking to her like a grown-up & you'll be amazed at her vocabulary when she's preschool age.

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3 24

If talking about the expressing fellings in a better way doesn't work and the tantrum goes on, I wait for them to be done. After all is calm I befor we part I say I love you (many different ways, tones, and such, make it so real). Just I love you but I do not like that behavior you showed me. and I'm sure we have different names for tantrums. Hissy, freakout, spazout, there is so many. Ours is Hemmy. So I say your behavior was a hemmy. So next times it starts you can let your child know or ask "are you going to have a hemmy?" lol.

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1 18

Ladies my 2yr old son is "BAD" he has the worst tantrums like screaming, throw hiself on the floor, slapping his hands an arms on his legs, banging his head an feet on the floor or walls! Smdh it really stresses me out! I'm a single mom who works full time so I'm tired when I get home an when he can't get his way all hell break lose! Smh I displine him but the behavior stays the same! An this is the worst part moms; he listens to his dad an babysitter cause they have more of a stern threaning voice then I do I guess, but he does not listen to me an I have to yell an scream for him to stop doing something wrong! This "terrible two" snydrome lmao is really making me not want anymore kids! Oh yea an he bites too! Smdh (sad face)

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5 27

Dont feel bad that your son doesnt listen to you Julie, mine is the same, and he behaves WAY better for his father than he does for me, and thats only because im his primary caregiver, and see alot more of him than Daddy whos off at work everyday.this stage will pass! believe me!

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36 28

I agree that children tend to only tantrum when they are sleepy or over stimulated. I cope with my sons tantrums by distracting him and it works really well.

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1 5

Time out usually works for my 3yr old, bt she does them in her room. And i hv a designated chair for tht purpose.

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5 27

i tried a little experiment the other day as whenever my boy started to have a tanty or get grumpy with me, i would end up yelling or arguing back. so at the supermarket the other day, i just walked off, then he would come to me grizzling again , i stayed calm, said nothing, and walked off again. when he came to me again i told him i would talk to him only when he calmed down (staying calm myself) then at the counter of course he wanted an ice cream. i told him he hasnt behaved well enough today, again keeping my voice firm but calm, and that he may get one next time at the supermarket, if he proved he could behave. he screamed and cried and the whole time i kept calm. it stopped once we got to the car. this worked SO much better than arguing back and forth with him which usually makes the tantrum worse - fuels the fire! and last for at least half an hour.

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1 9

So glad so many of you have the right idea, my children are both on the autism spectrum and tantrums out in public should be dealt with the same for them as any other child, make sure they have all their important needs met and if so ignore the tantrum. Kids with autism mature slower and people can't see that kids have autism so when an older child is throwing a tantrum and their parents are ignoring it we quite often have strangers coming up to our kids to 'show us how to deal with our kids' usually by telling them to stop being naughty. They are normally met with the most patience I can muster but sometimes I just tell them straight leave my child alone.

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