5 Ways to Derail a Tantrum


My son is in the throes of the terrific* twos. He is learning boundaries, and I am learning patience. Do not pray for patience. God will give you a toddler to practice on. My sun’s ability to destroy my house gradually increased. He likes to say “no”, which I will take over “shut up” any day. I have his lovely older cousins to thank for that gem. Thank God that phase has passed. There is nothing like having a lovely Sunday morning breakfast at a restaurant and when it’s time to go your son shouts “shut up” repeatedly at the top of his lungs. All eyes are on you at that point and you have to decide whether you will ignore him and snatch him and take him to car or end up on the news. This is so tricky for me. The tantrums progressed from the stiffening of his back with loud shrieks to all out collapsing on the floor flailing with real tears coming out of his eyes because he has to come inside from playing. Jesus be a Valium. Through trial and error I have learned ways to derail the tantrum or at least shorten its lifespan. Maybe this will work for you too.

  1. Let them throw things.

My son used to kick my couch that he did not pay for and tear my books that I love almost as much as him. Bloody hell! In my frustration one day I screamed “you don’t have a job, you can’t replace anything in here! Quit destroying my stuff!!!!!!!!!”

I grabbed one of his plastic chairs and offered it to him.

“Here.” I shoved the chair towards him.

“When you want to throw something, throw this!”

He looked at me in amazement. He couldn’t believe I was allowing him to throw something. Now he knows that when the synapses in his brain are firing off because I won’t give him anymore juice; he can toss his chair across the room. We also have a ball and a stuff animal that he can use. He likes options.

  1. Give them a bath.

I discovered this one the same way I discover most things, out of frustration. The toddler was having a particular difficult day and couldn’t be consoled. He liked nothing and no one. He cried every five minutes and he followed me around but didn’t want me to touch him. Da f*#k? What did this kid want? I played music, I offered him food. None of my tricks worked. I saw some essential oil in the bathroom and BINGO!

“King, come take a bath!”

He grumpily came into the bathroom. I hit the water with a few drops of lavender and my son played in the tub for thirty minutes with his toys. Slowly, he turned back into my angel. Yes, he was wrinkled as a prune. Don’t judge me. You don’t know my life.

  1. Spontaneous Dance Party

I actually have playlist dedicated to King. When he starts yelling or being extra whiny because I won’t give him the keys or take him downstairs; I turn the music up loud and start dancing around like a teenager in a mosh pit. He does one of two things. He joins me or stares until he laughs. He is always shocked by how “mean Mommy” can be so silly.

  1. Ignore

I use this tactic when I have to give King a consequence. King gets time out when he does something dangerous. The time out chair is the worst thing that could happen to this two-year old. He cries as if he is being tortured. These are times that I have to be the enforcer. While he is in time out I do not pay him any attention. I will not pay attention to him until he chills out. This tactic takes time. At first he screamed bloody murder for an extended period of time. I suggest wine. As soon as he stopped crying I turned around and told him he could get up. After a few times he finally learned that if he sat  quietly in timeout he could get free sooner.

  1. The Ying Yang Whisper

This one I discovered after meditation. I naturally yell at people who are yelling at me. However, I soon learned that it is foolish to get into a screaming match with a toddler. You are teaching them that it is okay to communicate this way and you are letting them know that they are getting the best of you.  So instead, I get on my knees and get very close to his face and whisper. What I say varies. But, the louder they get the softer you get. Make sure you get close to their face or ear so they can hear what you are saying. The first time I did it King was scared and stopped yelling. After that time he is more annoyed than anything and will become quiet so I will get out of his face.

Cheers to surviving toddlers! Trust me, you will need the wine.


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