You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Handling your child’s tantrum effectively and lovingly

Recently I was trying to DVR a program on TV.  I am told this is simple…but as I looked at the 4 remotes we have and tried to start the process I just couldn’t make the darn remote work.  I felt the frustration level inside me begin to get to the boiling point, I put the remote(s) down firmly, sighed and groaned loudly and stomped upstairs.  I had just had an adult temper tantrum…(later I found out that the remote was not working because there were no batteries in it, someone under the age of 25 in our house used them for something else…hmmmm)

The frustration a toddler can feel is very similar.  He or she is trying to do something, wants something, or wants to express something that just isn’t happening.  Remember toddlers are long on will and short on skill.  Because they are upset, and have very little control over their little emotions, and very few words to say why, the screams, kicks, and tears begin.  So what can a parent do when a child is in the throes of a tantrum?

The most important thing a parent can remember is to stay cool.  Don’t add to the mix of frustration with your own anger.  Your frustration and anger plus your child’s will result in an exaggerated tantrum.  Take a couple of deep breaths, and stay cool.  Spanking and yelling will not shorten the tantrum, be a picture of control and the example of adult behavior for your child.

  • Remember that your child feels out of control.  Those feelings can be scary to a child.  They don’t like to scream and kick…they just don’t know how to handle their emotions.  You can ignore the tantrum but don’t leave the room when your toddler  is having a tantrum.  The feeling of being left can increase those feelings of being scared.
  • Older children can be sent to a bedroom or another room to gain control.  Remove them away from other people.  Tell your child that he or she may return when he or she has calmed down.  This is empowering and teaches older children that they do have control over their actions and emotions.
  • Try to understand why your child is melting down.  If your child is frustrated with a toy or is very disappointed, a little loving touch and a few words describing what your child is feeling might help.  Sometimes a distraction with a different toy or bringing the child to a new setting might help.  Singing a song or being a bit silly may nip the tantrum too.  This must be accomplished before the meltdown is at its height.  If the tantrum is a result of your child being refused something he wants or because of some discipline, ignoring the tantrum may be the best way to handle it.
  • If your child is throwing, kicking, hitting or showing other behavior that could hurt himself or others, then move your child to a quiet safe place to calm down.  If you are in the middle of a public place, you might need to go to your car.
  • Do not try to explain away a tantrum.  Lots of words and choices after the tantrum is at its height usually only frustrates a child further making him more angry and increasing the length of the tantrum.
  • If the tantrum continues and the child seems to be having a difficult time de-escalating, try sitting calmly next to your child with your hand on them and quietly saying, “Mommy will help you calm down now.”  Sometimes touch will calm a very upset child.
  • After the tantrum, most children will seek some extra love.  They realize that they were less than cute, and want reassurance that they are still loved by you.  Don’t overdo the loving or give into the tantrum because you feel bad, this reinforces the tantrum.  A hug and kiss, a few words of love, a smile and then move on.  Don’t dwell on the tantrum.
  • Sometimes a “calm down bottle” will help a child handle a tantrum.  Take a water bottle and remover the label and fill it with water, a container of glitter glue, and add a container of loose glitter.  Super glue the water bottle lid on.  Shake the bottle and have your child watch the glitter settle.  This often will calm a child…it works well in time out too!  Your child can leave time out when the glitter settles down and he does too!

Tantrums are part of normal growth and development for most toddlers and they usually decrease as a child begins to understand his feelings and emotion and has words to describe them.  As your child handles frustration and disappointment better, the tantrums will decrease…and your life will be a bit easier. Helping your child learn to handle frustration, anger and other emotions and feelings will result in an adult that can hopefully handle the frustration of a TV remote!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



  1. My son’s tantrums are beginning to test my patience. This post could not have come at a better time. I meed to stay calm and help him get calm.

    Any suggestions when the tantrum is during diaper or clothes changes?



  1. Parenting tips…day three! « raisingkidswithlove

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