Weathering Storms: How to Deal With Temper Tantrums

By Dominique Nelson,

  Family    2

I remember the first time I ever saw a child throw a fit.  I was a naive teenager and he was a cannibal who had obviously sapped every trace of beauty from his helpless mother.  As I watched him thrash around barbarically in the grocery store, I thought to myself, “When I have children, they will never act like that.”


I guess I forgot to knock on wood, because it was a mere eight years later that I found myself in said mother’s shoes, watching my child writhe around on the floor and thinking, “Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?”

And then came my second.  And she was feistier than the first.  I think I once set her off because I looked at her the wrong way.  She threw fits at the grocery store, getting into the car seat, on the drive home, during dinner, before bed, and even a few times in her sleep.  She was a tempest that would have made Shakespeare proud.

But we made it through, with a lot of tears and advice from other mothers and a lot of love.  I’m grateful I figured out how to deal with temper tantrums, and we have not had any for years now. My feisty middle-child has a strength and integrity that I admire more than most adults.

How to Deal With Temper Tantrums

Is your child throwing a tantrum that is out of the ordinary, or is this a recurring thing?

If your child is in the middle of a tirade and she doesn’t usually do this, the list of solutions is pretty short:

  1. Feed her something with protein.
  2. For younger kids, give her a nap (rock or lie with her until she falls asleep).
  3. If she is throwing a fit because she wants something, and if you don’t want her to keep behaving this way, for heaven’s sake do not give her what she wants.
  4. Take her for a walk.  Show her things in the environment to distract her from her upset.  (I know this sounds too easy, but it works like magic!)

If she has a habit of throwing tantrums, consider trying one of the following:

  1. Again, do not give her what she wants when she screams.  Remind her to use her words to get what she wants.  Show her examples of using good communication to get things.  You will probably need to do this numerous times over the next few months.
  2. Set aside 30 minutes each day to spend quality time with her doing just what she wants.  She may want to walk outside in her socks, or play a thousand rounds of “I Spy,” or she may just want to watch TV.  Fine, just sit with her and do it with her. This is her time.  Eventually she will begin to communicate more and ask you questions; she may even bring up things she is upset about.  Listen and understand and give her your undivided attention.  I found this quality time to be absolutely essential to uplifting my daughter’s mood and preventing recurring tantrums.  She was much more willing to help and listen to me when I kept this in every day.
  3. When she is in a good mood, talk to her about her role in the family.  Let her know that she is an important part of this group, and that she has a job to help keep the home happy. Allow her to contribute.  If she wants to vacuum, sweep, help you with dishes, or brush your hair, let her do so, even if she doesn’t do a great job yet.  Giving her grown-up jobs will encourage her to act more like a grown-up.
  4. You may consider visiting a nutritionist to see if there is something lacking in her diet or something physical that needs to be addressed.  Nowadays more and more children suffer from weak digestive tracts due to antibiotic use and chemicals in food, and this prevents proper absorption of vitamins and minerals.  A lack of B-vitamins or proper oils can cause recurring tantrums.  Be sure to consult with a professional to find exactly what may be occurring physically with your child.


  Comments: 2

  1. Thanks for the great advice. I have to try to remember it!

  2. Ah yes …memories of one or two times flooding in.. ha ha great post ! I’m sure a lot of turbulence for moms and kids will be quelled by following your fabulous tips xoxox

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