Triumph Over Tantrums

Girl Throwing a TantrumWatching your child explode into a full-blown tantrum can make you want to throw one yourself. And if you’re out in public, it can be embarrassing. How would you like to learn how to manage those tantrums and minimize the drama?

First, here’s some good news.

“Kids’ tantrums are usually a reaction to good parenting . . . not a sign that mom or dad has done something wrong,” according to Dr. Thomas W. Phelan, creator of the video series, “1-2-3 Magic.”[1. Did you know that some schools, including Reede Gray Elementary in Redwood Falls, use 1-2-3 Magic in the classroom?] Good parents must sometimes say “no” to their child’s wishes. A tantrum, Dr. Phelan explains, is simply an immature child’s normal reaction to not getting her way.

Since no one gets her way all the time, teaching your child to handle frustration will help her grow up into a healthy adult. Let’s talk about how to do that.

Have a battle plan.

  • Avoid the mine field. If your child is usually crabby in the evening, don’t choose evenings to take her grocery shopping. If there’s something she shouldn’t touch, move it out of reach and out of sight. If you want your toddler to go to bed at 8:00, don’t wait to start her bedtime routine until 7:55.
  • Choose your battles. While saying “no” is often necessary, it is not always necessary.  Save “no” for things that are harmful or dangerous, things that oppose your family’s rules or values, or things that you can’t afford right now. For things that don’t fit into categories like those, consider saying “yes”.
  • Stand your ground. When you have said “no” and then she protests, don’t give in just to avoid a tantrum. Your clever little one will soon learn that flailing-and-wailing long enough always makes Mom cave. But sticking to your decision teaches her that Mom is tantrum-proof.
  • Evacuate the area. Although you may not be in a place where you can safely leave your child to throw her tantrum alone, you can “evacuate” by shutting down debate. State your “no” (with a short and sweet explanation) and say nothing more. Turn on music or pick up a magazine to read. Maybe a time-out is appropriate. Read this article for some great tantrum-taming ideas, including using time-outs.
  • Comfort the wounded. When the tantrum is over, your child may feel a little shell-shocked. As this article points out, “kids may be especially vulnerable after a tantrum when they know they’ve been less than adorable. Now (when your child is calm) is the time for a hug and reassurance that your child is loved, no matter what.”

Use your battle plan to stay out of the danger zone.

  • Prevent abuse. When a tantrum catches you by surprise, your own frustration and anger can build up to the point where you could lose control and hurt your child. On the other hand, by following a plan that keeps you confident and calm, you will feel more control over yourself and this awkward situation.
  • Don’t get reported. Many parents fear that their child’s tantrum will cause someone to report them to Social Services. Again, following your plan will give you reason to be a calm, confident parent. Onlookers will be more likely to admire than report you.

Come learn more about how to triumph over tantrums.

Stop by Choices Pregnancy Center and ask for the video lesson series on “Tantrums!” by 1-2-3 Magic. You can take these lessons for free through our Earn While You Learn program. You’ll develop your own battle plan and earn Baby Bucks to help you purchase things you and your child need from our Boutique. Click here to find out more about our free program.


Talk about a time you had to face a tantrum by your child. What worked for you? What didn’t?