How to Diffuse a Tantrum in 10 Seconds Flat


It’s a hard place to be -- in public and with a toddler who is having a complete meltdown. You want to hide. You want it to stop but nothing works. Soothing is conditional at best. No one wants to be the monster caught on videotape screaming at their willful child to “Shut the f*ck Up!”

Well, now you don't have to be. Here are a few ways to stop those nasty tantrums dead in their tracks.


Copy The Tantrum: Lie on the floor next to your thrashing child and mimic their behavior. If that means stomping your feet, screaming until you are red-faced or actng like a complete loon, do it. This behavior shocks them and, if you're in public, it will embarrass them as well.

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Ignore It: Tell your child that you can’t hear him when he is being whiny. It may even help if you speak to him in a Donald Duck voice. The voice will throw him off balance and then you can swoop in for a little distraction.

Distract (Bait & Switch): Begin singing, Baby got back as loudly as possible while shaking your butt. If your kid does not immediately start laughing, sing louder. She will stop what she's doing and start laughing. Tantrum over.

Stay Calm: I won’t lie, I am NOT the Mom who gets down on my knees with an unlimited supply of patience and understanding. I am not. But if you can just count to 10 before you react, you may be surprised how much that few seconds can help your child realize that you aren't going to respond to irrational behavior. Plus, if you stand completely still and silent or lie on the couch with your eyes closed, she will be more concerned with your well being. Tantrum averted.

Walk Away: If your child starts to throw a tantrum in a public place, tell them you are leaving. I don’t care if you're there to pick up that kid's birthday cake on the way to the party ... walk away. He needs to know that you mean business. You've got to follow through so that he knows that you are not going to let this behavior go unpunished. I won't lie. Once I waited in line for a ride for an hour and at the point of entry, my child decided to talk back. We left the line. I was punished too but sometimes, you have to take one for the team.

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Talk it to death: That’s right. Talk about every single emotion that little guy is having and then talk about it again. Your kid will get so bored hearing about his own tantrum and all of your empathy that he will stop the tantrum and walk away from you, out of sheer boredom.

Shock & Awe: If all else fails, sometimes insanity needs to be met with equal insanity. I call this the "shock and awe" tactic. Your child has thrown herself on the floor because you asked her to pick up a toy. Or you are on the phone and junior decides to throw himself on the floor and scream bloody murder. With every plea, he gets louder. Promptly take your faucet hose sprayer and spray junior in the face. Shock! And when hegets startled and starts to cry, "Why did you do that?" Spray him again. Awe! Tantrum diffused.

How do you diffuse a toddler tantrum?

Image Via Bethany King/ Flickr

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