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Temper Tantrums

By Kathryn Mewes - Author of The 3 Day Nanny

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It all seems to happen so fast. One minute you have a baby in arms and the next minute they are walking and talking and have the ability to say ‘No’ to anything you ask of them. This is when many parents can feel ‘out of their depth’ and I can totally understand why…

…. If you are trying to leave the house for an appointment with your 2 year old who is just refusing to get dressed what do you do!?

A. Shout

B. Cancel the appointment

C. Bribe them with sweets / toys

The fact of the matter is that all of the above are likely to still have your child in their pyjamas and you feeling frantic!

Let’s Start at the Beginning

As adults we all have rules that we have to abide by – and the reason we abide by them is for two main reasons…

Following a rule leads to a reward. Breaking a rule leads to a consequence. I am sure that many of us would drive our cars a lot faster on the road if we did not think we could gain points on our license or, worse still, have our license taken from us.

Children love to know their boundaries. If they do not have clear ‘rules’ there is no possible way of knowing ‘right from wrong’.

STEP ONE - Implement some ‘House Rules’.

Sit with your husband , partner and talk about what you both expect of your child. Are you happy with them jumping on the sofa? , or opening the fridge and helping themselves to the contents? Is bed time a set time?

It is an interesting discussion to have and it allows you to unite as a couple and ensure that you are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’!

Example of House Rules for a family with a 2 and 3 year old.

• We do not shout at one another.

• We always do what Mummy and Daddy have asked us to do.

• We do not hurt one another.

• We do not jump on the furniture or the beds.

• We sit on our chairs at meal times and do not get down until we have finished.

• We remember our ‘Please and Thank you’.

• Everyone in the house is to keep each other happy.

Sit down as a family and read out the rules. Place them somewhere that everyone can see them.

State that House Rules are for everyone to follow.

Adults and Children.

STEP TWO – What if the rules are ignored!?

In general most people want to know the consequence to not following the rule. Children are no different. There is no point is placing the ‘House Rules’ on the fridge door if you are not going to make the children aware of the consequence.

Consequence System

ASK - Bend down and hold the top of your child’s arms. Gain eye contact and calmly ask them to do as you have asked. Step away and give them the chance to follow the request. ( 10 seconds)

TELL - Bend down and make eye contact again. Talk in a clear stern voice and tell them what you want them to do.

WARN - Now bend down and make eye contact. “You need to choose. (State request) or MAT.” “1, 2, 3!” Give them a couple of seconds to respond.

ACT - “Come with me. You made your choice.” Hold them under the arms from behind and walk them to the doormat. “Stay here until I am ready.” Confidently walk away.

The Door Mat!

Most houses have a doormat. Ensure that the door is unable to be opened by your child. This is where they sit ‘until you are ready to bring them back into the room to play.


Each time they follow you, turn around and hold them under their arms and walk them back to the mat and sit / lay them down.


You are wanting to hear them feel the consequence. They need to be placed back on the mat as many times as it takes until they are shouting. When they are shouting this is when you know that they understand that you are in control and they made the wrong choice and now are ‘paying the price of the consequence’.

Once they have remained on the mat for 10 seconds and you can hear that they are calming down and the shout is becoming a whimper. This is when you can approach them – but not before.

Bend down in front of them and make eye contact.

Smile at them and say “The shouting is all finished now. You can come into the kitchen when you are ready. ( State an activity that you could do together – build the train track)

At this point you can walk into the kitchen / playroom together or walk away and let him come when he is ready.

You might have had to return them to the mat 40 times! But I can guarantee that the next time you ask your child to do as you have asked they will start to think before making the wrong choice!

Eventually when you say “ Think, close the fridge or sitting on the mat!?” They will start to respond by making the right choice. Ensure that you thank your child when they make the right choices.

It is so important to allow your child to shout when they need to. Frustration and anger needs to be expressed. We must never suppress a child’s emotions.

As long as you have a place in your house where your child knows they are allowed to shout this will cause you to be more relaxed if a tantrum occurs.

STEP THREE - Out and About

It is more challenging when you are out if your child decides to ‘shout it out’ but it is so important to make your child aware that you will still have a consequence in place.

Talk to your child about where you are going and what the consequence is. It is important to have this chat before reaching the destination.

Example: You are going to the park and you know that the challenge is that your son does not like to share the apparatus.

• Bend down and make eye contact once you are in your coats and ready to leave the house.

• Talk in a positive fashion.

• “Now, We are going to have fun at the park and you are going to be my good boy.”


• “Now, if you do make the choice not to share and be kind to the other children I will be sitting you under the tree by the buggy. You will stay there until I am ready. Just like the mat at home.”


• “Do you understand ( say their name)?”

• You do not need a response. Wait a couple of seconds and then say “Great. Let’s go and have fun.”

• When you get to the park go straight to the tree and say “Remember share nicely – or tree!”

• Place your hand on the tree so that he sees and fully understands.


On lookers do not judge the parent who disciplines their child. They judge the parents who are turning a blind eye!

Feel empowered by disciplining your child – others around you will learn by your example!

Once you have a system in place and your child knows the rules and what occurs if they do not follow the rules you tend to find that the tantrums become few and far between. Children take comfort in knowing that their parents are in control.

Remain consistent with the consequence system – it works! Discipline is not easy.

Common Challenges

Refusing to get dressed in the morning.

• Lay the clothing out on the carpet in your child’s bedroom the night before.

• Lay out 2 options of outfits and let them choose.

• This avoids the discussion in the morning.

• Aim to get dressed before going into the kitchen for breakfast – Get dressed in the bedroom.

• If your child refuses to get dressed –

• “I will come back when you are ready to get dressed. If you want to stay in your pyjamas you will have to stay in bed.”

• Stand up and walk away and close the bedroom door behind you.

• Let them shout in frustration and once the shouting has calmed to a whimper you can continue to help your child dress in their bedroom. NEVER try to dress a child when they are in a fury.

Refusing to put on shoes.

• DO NOT attempt for a child to put on their shoes unless you are totally ready to leave the house yourself.

• Get yourself entirely ready with your bag and the buggy at the door.

• Give your child a5 minute warning that you are soon to leave the house.

• Set a timer and let them know that when it sounds you will meet them at the front door.

• Once the alarm sounds give them a moment to complete what they are doing.

• Guide them to the front door and open it “Let’s go”.

• Simply slip your child’s feet into their shoes or sit them down close to the front door with their shoes and wait outside on the doorstep for them.

Believe in your child – they are capable of behaving and doing as you ask. Give them clear direction and the time they need.

Refusing to come to the meal table.

• Set the timer 5 minutes before the meal is served.

• “When the timer rings it will be dinner time. Enjoy your last 5 minutes play before we eat.”

• When the timer rings give your child a moment to come to the table without you asking him.

• If he is ignoring it go and bend down in front of him and make eye contact.

• “Time for dinner ( state name).”


• “Dinner or Mat (state name). You choose. 1, 2, 3!”

• You now have to thank your son for coming to the table or sit him on the mat!

If you have other children they will understand what you are doing. Explain this to them and ask them to continue with their meal.

When one child is being disciplined you will find your other child looks on in fascination. They are not likely to misbehave to get the same treatment.

Siblings arguing and fighting.

It is all part of the sibling bonding process – brothers and sisters in disagreement.

It is important that you allow them to manage these situations. DO NOT step in unless you feel that one is genuinely going to be hurt. DO NOT fight your children’s battles. Let them resolve things together.

BASIC RULE : Do not intervene unless one of them shouts out for you. Stand back and give them the impression that you are not watching them or concerned.

You will not always be there for your child. Give them the independence and confidence to mange situations alone.

So when your child says ‘No’ to your request stop and ask yourself the following:

• Did I bend down and make clear eye contact?

• Did I give them the time they needed to adjust to doing the task?

• Did I warn them of the consequence?

• Am I being consistent with my discipline system?

If you can answer all these questions with a ‘Yes’ and your child still decides to throw themselves on the floor and ‘shout it out’ – leave them!

Give them freedom to express themselves and calm themselves down and then continue with the day!

Consistent discipline empowers you as a parent.

Written by Kathryn Mewes author of The 3 Day Nanny. Kathryn also offers an individual practical service on how to ‘manage your children and speak in a way that they listen.’ For further details contact her direct on 07787 821525 or go to her website to email her direct.

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