Preventing Temper Tantrums

Welcome to my series on Stress-Free Living! For me, mornings can be some of the most stressful times, so last week, I talked about that in my last post, Tips for Stress-Free Mornings.



When I was had my first child, I was amply warned by many well-meaning mothers, “Oh, you think she’s sweet now – just wait till she turns 2 and starts banging her head against the wall!” I was certainly mortified at the thought, and wondered how in the world will I escape?? Am I doomed to have my baby turn into a 2 year-old monster??!?

Well, I can tell you, she DIDN’T turn into a monster, and she DIDN’T bang her head against the wall, and she DIDN’T pitch a royal fit in Walmart. *whew!*

Then when I had my second child, they told me, “Well, you just got lucky with the first one. This one’s a boy. Boys are different. You’ll see.”

I waited for the violence. Finally I gave up waiting, and by the time I had my fourth child, no one gave me their horror stories or warned me of the Terrible Twos. Thankfully, I had 7 children, and none of them hit the Terrible Twos yet – and the youngest is 10 years old.

What follows here is the basic plan I clung to while my babies were little. It worked beautifully then, and I’m sure it’ll work beautifully now.

1. Have the proper mindset. Remember that it is far easier to prevent a temper tantrum than it is to quell one in process or keep one from happening when the child has already thrown regular tantrums. You can prevent them from happening in the first place, if you work hard at it.

2. A tantrum is uncontrolled anger. If you are able to eliminate all possible causes for anger, and you will effectively nip tantrums before they start. The next few points tell how to eliminate most of the causes of anger in babies and small children.

3. Keep your child on a regular eating and sleeping schedule. This is very important, because I know how cranky I get when I’m tired or hungry. When those basic needs of food and sleep are taken care of, he is a much happier baby!

4. Give your child ample warning when making a change. Personally, I hate being interrupted from something I really enjoy doing. But I have a little time-keeper – a clock – which constantly tells me that it’s time to change activity. Perhaps it’s time to go make dinner, or get ready for bed, but I’m still tied to the clock. A young child has no such reference. To him, all the time in the world is for play, and YOU are the interruption.

To prevent YOU being the interruption, simply do for your child what that clock does for you – give him a little warning ahead of time. When I look at the clock and it says 11:30am, I know that I’d better wrap up what I’m doing and head to the kitchen to put lunch together, or I may have a mutiny on my hands! Your child needs the same thing, but he can’t read the clock yet. It’s up to you to tell him, “We need to get ready to leave in 5 minutes.” That way he can know that he needs to wrap up what he’s doing because soon he needs to get ready to go.

5. Deal sternly with anger. My children usually showed their anger at around 6 months old, when they would fuss and arch their backs. I dealt very sternly with them, and made it so that it was not worth their while to display their anger like that. Soon they were able to express themselves in better ways.

Remember, your relationship to your child is key to passing on your values, and temper tantrums create a wedge between you and your child. And contrary to popular advice, preventing temper tantrums is not only important, but it is also doable.

Now, go out there and courageously take your little bull by his horns! You can do it, if you want to.

Question: Have you ever been able to ward off a temper tantrum? What have you done? What advice do you have for dealing with temper tantrums?


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