Posted by: Had-enough-Mom | 2004/11/08


Tantrum Toddler

My 3 year old son throw terrible tantrums. Not just when he cannot get his own way, but for any reason.
No amount of reasoning helps and I don't smack him unless it is really necessary. I have tried sending him to his room (with the door open) and telling him that he can only come out once he promises to behave. He doesn't stay there, he keeps testing me by coming out halfway and screaming again. I have tried speaking to him nicely yet firmly but he doesn't take me or his father seriously. I do spend quality time with him but he keeps pushing his limits. He doesn't want to hear the word "NO" and when we do use it, he will kick, scream, spit, he now pulls things off tables and smashes them as well. I don't know what else to do, how do I calm him down???

Expert's Reply



The problem of discipline really needs to be addressed by you and your husband in a very consistent manner. NO should be no, without ANY other options, irrespective of how much screaming there is. Whether, you decide to give a little smack at times is your own decision, but the most important thing is that there must be absolute consistency and that his tantrums may not influence a decision once it has been made. It is normal for children to use whatever strategies they have available to try manipulate us, and they will only stop using it once they see that the strategy is useless.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

user comments


Posted by: Nuffing | 2004/11/09

This is the toughest thing to deal with and I find the firm but fair approach works best.

Read a few books, I'd recommend 'How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk' By Elaine Mazlish, and Kid Co-operation by Elizabeth Patley etc.

Being a toddler is very frustrating, and I think they often feel unheard and misunderstood. So they fight to exert their will at every opportunity.

I was able to reason with my older son and I would get him to stop the tantruming first. I would ask him to calm down and look at me. I could then explain the situation to him. I taught him that if he screamed and tantrumed my answer would never be yes, but if he learned to ask nicely and reason with me, then a no might become a yes.

Sometimes they get so worked up you can't get them to stop immediately, and they need to calm down first before you can even talk to them, or sometimes you need a break to let that 'I want to kill you' feeling pass ;). Then I use a time out and would put them in their rooms or the bathroom for a few minutes. With the condition that when they calmed down they could come out, whether that was 10 seconds or 10 minutes. Often within a minute they stop and start playing happilly with something, but they just needed to get the hysteria to stop...

I found that my son would be much calmer after a tantrum, so it;s like a build up of frustration gets vented and then they feel better, so it's not altogether a bad thing...

It is very hard to be patient and consistent, but if you are it works wonders.

My son is so good at negotiating that sometimes I can't say no to him now!

Other ideas are:
Say 'I know you really want that, and I wish I could get it for you. Imagine if we had enough money to buy 100's of those!'
This diffuses the situation and makes the child imagine something positive instead of just hearing a 'no you can't!'.

Another good thing is to say 'yes that's lovely, let's put that on your list for your birthday or christmas.'. That means it's not something you'll get now, but you do still have a chance of getting it. etc

I hope that helps.

Reply to Nuffing
Posted by: Norma | 2004/11/09


I do feel sorry for you, maybe take away his toys or sweets or TV, what ever he really likes......

Good luck

Reply to Norma

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