She’s Throwing A Hissy Fit—Dealing With Temper Tantrums

by Debbie Twomey on February 28, 2013



What do most parents do when their toddler goes into a full blown temper tantrum?  Do you discipline your child then and there or do you just remove them from the situation?  Have you seen those poor parents out in public whose child is screaming and throwing themselves on the floor? How do you feel about it?

Well, I have a 16 month old who so now acting like she is in her terrible two’s already. She now throws herself on the floor if I say no to her and as an added bonus looks for something else to throw for an extra insult. This just started happening and I was NOT prepared because she had such a sweet disposition up till now. I mean I wanted that 8 months before she hit those “terrible twos.”

I have dealt with temper tantrums for many years but have to admit, forgot some of my techniques. Because I am so thrilled with this precious little being  I hate disciplining her—BUT, she would be the loser if I did not.

This tiny, precious creature can create quite a scene, as can even the sweetest of children. If she throws a fit in the store and does not calm easily, I would just leave (it has not happened yet because right now I can easily distract her).

Triggers: mealtimes, baths, public places, getting dressed, work time or departure of a parent, trips in the car, transitions (going to or from a daycare, daycare provider’s arrival), phone calls, visitors, and sometimes even the smallest deviation from their normal routine.

Techniques for diffusing tantrums:

  •   Look you toddler directly I their eyes and let them know you understand they are frustrated and you are there for them. If they are able to understand reason with them by being empathetic and firmly saying the answer is still no
  •  Be silly and get them to giggle or divert their attention (this is probably best for Mouse {McKenna} since she is so young). Sometimes I can make a goofy face and she totally forgets what she was upset about
  •  Ignore them—the attention they are seeking is negative and it may cut it short if we act as if we are not paying attention
  •  Try distracting them—if there is a special toy or activity you know they will like ask if they want to play
  •   Food—this is one best used for a toddler like Joshua. Sometimes his frustration is hunger fueled because he is a very active child and eats to feed that burn. Asking if he would like some apples or pears may just calm him down
  •  Remove the child from the situation. Sometimes nothing else works and if you are in a public place you will want to diffuse quickly and with as little fuss as possible. That means as the parent you remain calm and show your child the behavior you want—calm and quiet. Never lose control


It is not always possible to avoid flare ups but if you know the triggers, plan ahead and you can limit how often they happen. Known triggers are being tired or hungry, being in a loud place too long, too many people, being in the car a bit too long or being taken in and out a few too many times, and even having their parents attention elsewhere for too long (like when visiting family or friends). I carry snacks and drink in the car at all times as well as some favorite toys. When we do go for visits, they are short (for me 1-2 hours is very short) and I try never to plan anything during their normal naptime, that is just asking for a meltdown.

I try (and no I do not always remember when she is in the throes of a major tantrum)to use a soft voice and model what I want her to do which is express what she wants, either by pointing or using her words. I ask her what she wants rather than say “Well now Miss Mouse you need to be a good girl”—that seems to fuel her on if I say that to her.

Mouse is not able to express herself as much as she would like and I can see the frustration when she wants to let me know what she is thinking. But she also likes to throw herself when she hears the word NO—because she is not able to understand “waiting” yet.

She knows her routines and is very comforted with them so changing it just a teeny bit can end up with her tossing her little body on the floor. In that case I just grab her up and hug her till she calms down.

 Mouse is also very agile and intelligent so she always wants to push herself to do whatever I may be doing. When I bring groceries into the house, she will grab a bag and bring into the kitchen but gets easily frustrated if the bag is too heavy for her. I just lighten her load.

Mouse is a typical toddler, me me me—that is her egocentric world. I just try to give her tools to deal with frustration and try to anticipate triggers that would cause her a meltdown. I know this phase will end shortly and that is a blessing for all parents.


"I have dedicated my life to the care and welfare of children. I feel privileged to share what I have learned with you. I am also committed to continuously learning.  I will keep informed of the latest information in parenting children from newborns to teens and pass it on to all of you.”   I will also use that same passion to help you create a dynasty generate increases in your business with straightforward and specialized media managing skills that guarantee your connection and scope will grow. Keep up to date reading our posts and discover valuable insights that can make parenting and succeeding in the business of the blogger– the most exciting adventure. (Debbie Twomey)
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ellen Barbagallo February 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm

What a great blog once again:)  I know Miss Mouse quite well and she can get a little upset at times, (which all toddlers do), but I have personally seen you use many of the above techniques and they have worked quite well. Great Great information Deb, as always:)


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