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How Do You Handle a Child’s Temper Tantrum?

What sort of evasive action do you take when a child screams or cries to get their way?

Whether you have kids or don’t, you've likely seen a child throw a fit in a checkout line at a grocery or heard the wails and cries coming from the toy aisle.

What happened? Some kid didn’t get what he or she wanted and resorted to a full-out assault on his or her parents complete with tears, screaming or my personal favorite—the wet noodle collapsed on the floor.

Or, maybe your kid just likes to throw the temper tantrums at home. I still remember going absolutely nuts on my mom when she wouldn’t let me wear my favorite pair of pink jeans because they were in the dirty laundry. And, no, that wasn’t last week—I was probably about 7 years old.

I’ve seen parents handle the situation a variety of ways. I’ll admit, I’ve used some of these tactics on my own children when they were younger on occasion, as well. Such as:

  • Ignoring—Acting like you are ignoring the offending child when they throw their tantrum, when in fact you are throwing your own internal temper tantrum.
  • The Threat—“Don’t you know that Santa is watching you? If you don’t stop, Santa won’t come if you’re acting like that.”  It could also be the “Wait until your father/mother gets home.”
  • Leaving the Scene—Scooping up the crying, noodle-like child and exiting the store as fast as possible, leaving your full cart in the middle of the aisle.
  • The Bribe—“If you quit acting up, you can watch Barney” or “Here, have a snack to eat while we’re waiting for the doctor.”

The temper tantrum has become such a regular occurrence, scientists released results of a recent study that deconstructs the toddler tantrum screams, according to npr.org. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest ignoring the tantrum is the way to go to keep the peace.

What do you think is the best way to handle a child’s temper tantrum? Take our poll below and share your temper tantrum story and advice in comments!

Julie McMonigal December 08, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Straight to the time out corner! No tantrums allowed.
Kathee December 08, 2011 at 08:21 PM
We used to go to Target store near a Krispy Kreme. If my kids behaved, we could stop and get a doughnut. If they did NOT behave, I stuck to my guns and we went home. I had the BEST behaved children in Target. I also started taking a small note pad. When the kids saw something they HAD to have, we would make a list for their Birthday or Santa. That put a HUGE end to "can I have... ??? can I have... ??? can I have... ???" Perfect!!!
Becky Glander December 08, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Sometimes the best word for kids to hear is "no" when they beg for things at the store. I always felt like such a wonderful parent when I was able to say "no, I don't have the money to buy that for you today." If they throw a tantrum after saying "no," then you just feel reinforced that they shouldn't have gotten a prize. It's when the sweet little thing says "OK, Mommy" that you want to run over to the toy and buy it for them!

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