Help My Out Of Control Kid!: How To Handle Temper Tantrums

Dealing with tantrums is the part of parenting which most parents dread. They hope their sweet little baby will not ever hit the toddler tantrum phase or the even worse teenage temper tantrum phase.

As a young mother, I was just as afraid of toddler tantrums as the next person. Then it happened, my sweet, good natured little boy switched in to a power struggling animal.

This was my first child, I didn’t know what to do.

I remember one day, when he was three years old, I told him he couldn’t have a certain snack he wanted and the next thing I knew he was in his room throwing his brand new metal Tonka dump truck against his wall.

I wondered, “Why don’t I know how to stop tantrums?” To me it seemed that other parents knew something I didn’t. Certainly they knew how to stop tantrums; didn’t they?

As I asked around I realized I was not alone in my parenting ignorance. It seemed like even God was trying to help me feel better by allowing me to be behind other out of control children in a check out lines at the store.

The poor mothers would smile at me and I would smile back with that, “I understand. Don’t worry about me being offended…my child does the same thing” face.

While my son was still three years old, and when we started doing foster care for troubled teens I finally learned how to control an out of control child; no matter the age. There were ways to talk to out of control children that really worked. There were certain structures which were better at solving parenting problems than others.

Our journey toward self-government as a family had begun.

For years now I have been sharing the principles I learned so well at that impressionable time of my parenting life.

People all over the world still wonder how to stop tantrums and attitude problems, but now I can offer some help.

In my book, Parenting A House United, I talk about the principles and skills our family has used for many years now to stop temper tantrums and attitude problems.

Remember the point is not to cause the child pain. The point is to be consistent enough that the child chooses to have a change of heart.

Just so you know, my oldest boy chose to stop having tantrums at age three as well because I changed the way I communicate with him. I made sure I understood him more, pre-taught him the skills he needed to learn and kept the tone of the home safe and secure. When I made these changes he changed too. He no longer felt the need to battle with me. Instead he calmly talked to me about his needs. Self-government works. His quick change was all the proof I needed. No other child has had tantrum problems like he did. When the anxiety in my home went away, so did the tantrums.

By Nicholeen Peck, BBC television star and author of Parenting A House United, and Londyn LaRae Says Okay.

Nicholeen’s Books and Audio Classes
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4 thoughts on “Help My Out Of Control Kid!: How To Handle Temper Tantrums

  1. Does this mean we can’t use the Mosaic Law’s method of stoning disobedient children? (jk).

    I agree that it is important to teach correct principles, and then let them govern themselves. Most parents don’t do the upfront work, or they are inconsistent, and so remain forever frustrated by those momentary demonic possessions that take over such children.

  2. I’d love to see a summary too. I’ve been pondering this for my own 3 year old this last week, as his tantrums have seem to hit the roof lately.

    Also, are your books in any ebook format?

  3. Right now the books are not in ebook format, but might be at some point. (no guarantees on when though) I can only do some many things since I require myself to put the children first each day. Progress is slow on the business end of things. Please get the the hand-held copy and enjoy! Right now I have a special going on my stuff though. Coupon code TSGDEALS will give you 20% off anything on the site. 🙂

    Joyce and Geoff, There is so much I could share on this topic. So, this will be brief. If I were trying to help a three year old stop having tantrums I would:

    1. Learn the steps to staying calm and not latching on to emotional outbursts. (This is the hardest part. I have a whole audio class on it called The Power of Calm–in CD or download)

    2. Teach the Four Basic Skills when the child is not having a problem and practice how corrections will happen. Role play!!!

    3. Recognize the point the child has anxiety. (This, or manipulation is the root of the problem)

    4. Seek to understand (not necessarily by talking, but by feeling and putting yourself in their shoes.)

    5. Establish a structure which backs you up so that you don’t have to ‘shoot from the hip’ in the moment

    6. Consistently use time out as a “getting ready” place for little ones and The Rule of Three for big kids

    7. Speak in a descriptive way instead of an emotional way.

    (These are the deep steps)

    In the moment, after such steps have been done I would:

    1. Analyze and seek to understand

    2. Say, “Susan you are screaming. You need to go to time-out” (gently take her there)

    3. After the calming time is done. Praise and do a proper corrective teaching.

    4. Role play the “right way to do communicate” Like how to disagree appropriately etc.

    (This is only the steps for small children)

    I wish I could go on, but alas, it would take days. 🙂

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