Rare is the child who makes it through childhood without ever throwing a temper tantrum. Some kids only lose it occasionally, while others are seemingly set off by the smallest thing and will kick and scream and yell and cry for what seems like hours. As a parent, tantrums can be extremely frustrating because there's seemingly nothing you can do to stop them.
We've consulted with a number of parents to bring you this handy list of ways to stop a tantrum dead in its tracks. The mileage you get from these techniques may vary, but hopefully there's at least something in here that will provide relief.
Leave the Room
Parents tend to want to cater to their children when they're upset. The problem with this is it's exactly what the kids want. A child who learns a temper tantrum will get him or her cuddles and soft words from mom and/or dad is likely to throw tantrums just to get this special attention. Instead of catering to a child throwing a temper tantrum, learn to walk away and let the child work things out on their own. This allows the child time to work through their emotions and may be just what you need to stop a tantrum dead in its tracks. If walking away doesn't work after a few minutes, it probably isn't going to work.
Remove the Child From the Situation
Here's a quick and easy way to get a child to calm down. Remove them from the area where they're throwing the temper tantrum. When my kids throw a tantrum, they get sent to their room until they calm down. It's tough to throw a tantrum when there isn't an audience present. I don't let them come back to where the rest of the family is until they've stopped crying and are ready to talk. This technique alone has stopped many a tantrum dead in its tracks.
Don't Get Upset
Having a child throw a temper tantrum is a stressful event, especially if the tantrum is thrown around other people. It's important to stay calm or your child will feed off of your negative energy and a mild tantrum can become one of epic proportions. Yelling and getting angry will only make things worse. A calming, soothing voice will stop a tantrum much faster than an angry, frustrated voice.
Don't Give Up & Give In
You may be tempted to give up and give your child what they're throwing a tantrum over. While this might defuse the current tantrum, you've just shown your child that a temper tantrum is a good way to get what they want. Guess what's going to happen the next time they want something and you say no? That's right, a tantrum will ensue. The more you give in, the quicker your child will turn to temper tantrums as a way of getting what they want. Stick to your guns and don't give in and your child will eventually learn temper tantrums aren't the way to go if they want something.
Distractions Through Actions
Children are simple creatures and they're easily distracted, even while in the midst of a temper tantrum. When my son was younger and would throw a temper tantrum, I would often be able to get him to forget all about it by quickly and excitedly telling him, "Oh my Gosh, Buddy. I totally forgot I have a secret to tell you!" It would pique his curiosity and he'd soon forget all about the tantrum he'd been in the midst of. This technique didn't work as well for my daughter, but she couldn't resist the "tickle monster." It's tough to stay angry when your parents are laughing and tickling you.
Record the Tantrum
I recently stumbled across a new technique that worked wonders with my stubborn child. I turned on the cell phone and pointed it in his direction while he was throwing a temper tantrum. He immediately noticed the phone and asked what I was doing. I told him I was recording him because I couldn't wait to show everyone his tantrum. He calmed down enough to where I was able to reason with him and get him to finish brushing his teeth. We both watched the video of the tantrum once he'd calmed down and he agreed he wasn't in control. Now, all I have to is pull out the phone and he instantly starts trying to regulate his temper. I've also found copying his tantrum in a funny way to be effective. It's tough for him to stay angry when mom is acting as wild as he is!