Mom Loses Her Kids for 2 Months Over a Typical Toddler Tantrum

crying boy toddler porch

Toddlers throw tantrums. And just about every parenting expert out there will reassure moms that it's typical toddler behavior. But when one California mom dealt with her toddler's tantrum by placing him on the family patio -- just outside an open window where she stood watching his meltdown -- she had no idea she'd be setting off a months-long battle with CPS ... or find herself arrested. 


The mom, whose name was changed to Mary (no last name) in an interview with to protect her family's identity, was apparently charged with misdemeanor child neglect, and CPS took both her toddler and infant away for months on end. Mary was breastfeeding, but said she wasn't allowed to pass on milk to her infant at first, and her kids ended up sick in foster care. A friend was finally able to take temporary custody, but Mary and her husband were only allowed to see their kids with supervision for months. 

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All this because a mom put her 2-year-old in time-out? A 2-year-old who was stealing his brother's toys and threw a hissy fit when his mom told him to stop? 
The charges were all eventually dropped, and the kids were returned to their parents. 
But as Mary told
"When this whole thing started, we kept on telling ourselves that we are glad there are good people protecting kids. But the longer it dragged on, the more we resented that everyone wasted time while other kids were in real danger."
It's a real issue that can't be overstated. Sometimes kids are in real danger, and a call to CPS is warranted. No child should be left alone to suffer because someone is afraid to be that person who made the call. 
But tantrums happen. And they tend to get worse when a kid is told no -- as Mary's child was -- and when he's disciplined, even via a simple time-out on the family patio under mom's watchful eye. This is part of typical child development, and it's important to assess the difference between "kid freaking out" and "kid being hurt."
When in doubt, check in. Pop over to the house where the kid is carrying on like someone just stole his puppy, and see if he's being abused or if he's just very cranky that someone won't let him have his way. 
Not taking the time to know the difference can turn lives upside down. 
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