3 Tips for Dealing With A Tantrum

Ok, so there a few words that really strike fear into the hearts of parents.

I mean, come on.  We’ve seen it all, right?  We’ve been through the snotty noses, and the major diaper blowouts. If something gross could be put in a toddler’s mouth, we’ve been witness to it, and lived to tell the tale. We’ve probably even seen daredevil attempts that would make Evel Knievel roll over in his grave. If those things don’t scare us, what would?

The words “Holidays” and “Birthday Party” are two pretty common ones. Another word on the list that ranks among the most feared words in the parental dictionary?





No parent wants to be on the receiving end of a temper tantrum by one of their children. It’s bad enough watching another parent suffer through it, especially in a public place, like a supermarket or the mall. But to be smack dab in the middle of it?  No thank-you!

Before having kids, it wasn’t unusual to see the behavior, and think to myself, “Why don’t those parents control that kid?”


Now, I think, “I’m glad it’s not me!”


Many parents don’t realize it, but there are some effective ways to disarm and/or distract your children before Mount Vesuvius erupts. Sometimes all it takes are some verbal and nonverbal cues to not only “turn that frown upside down” but to also get to a place where you can examine the cause of the tantrum, and work on not having it repeat.

Here are my top 3 strategies for dealing with tantrums. I have tried them all at various times, and yes, it’s possible to use all three depending on the situation. It’s not an exact science, of course, and we all make mistakes. Having these in your arsenal of parenting techniques will at least get you through some days alive.


Hug it out.

Yep, it’s that simple. Because, let’s face it.  Almost everything a kid does that annoys/irritates/bothers us, as parents, is just a way to get some attention. How about giving attention in the form of a hug?  Researchers have found that the human touch, especially a hug, will help console the child and thereby disarm him/her. Plus, it reassures the child that daddy or mommy are right there. I’ve found that hugs will truly calm the over-excited child. Hey, who doesn’t need a hug every once in a while when we’re feeling overwhelmed?


Stay Calm.

Easier said than done, amiright? But, my experience has been that for a parent to “fight fire with fire” is counter-productive. Nobody wins. Parents are older and more mature than kids (usually).  It’s up to us to take the high road by taking a deep breath and staying calm. Kids will have no springboard to maintain their momentum if a parent is talking to them in a calm, easy and relaxing voice. No one wants to be the only one yelling.


This falls under the category of distraction.  Certainly it’s one of the parent’s greatest tools in many instances. I have diffused many explosions with humor. It could be a silly face, a silly posture or telling a joke.  Who can resist a good relatively o.k. Knock-Knock joke?


-Knock, knock?

Who’s there?

-Old lady.

Old lady who?

-I didn’t know you could yodel.


Ok, it’s not going to get you on late night T.V, but it will distract your child from screaming, and that’s a good thing.



There are other strategies, too, including: Walking away from the child (save this one for at home, not in the Mall), and creating a tantrum zone to put them in until it subsides. See some other great ideas here.


Children are children. They are not (and never will be) in control of their emotions or intellects like adults, no matter how fast we want them to grow up. Making good choices, like to not lay on the floor of the store and throw a temper tantrum, comes in time. Remember that an ounce of prevention goes a long way. Talking to your kids when seas are calm about what they can expect means there is little disappointment later. All kids want are clear boundaries, and it’s our job, as parents to provide them.



Jeff Jackson

Jeff Jackson

Jeff is a published author and contributor to three books on daddies. He is a blogger, writer, and speaker for Daddies and men. He lives just north of NYC with his wife and twin cheetahs sons.
Jeff Jackson

Latest posts by Jeff Jackson (see all)

Jeff Jackson

Jeff is a published author and contributor to three books on daddies. He is a blogger, writer, and speaker for Daddies and men. He lives just north of NYC with his wife and twin cheetahs sons.

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