4 Mistakes Parents Make That Fuel Tantrums


Temper tantrums.

There are two more obscene words in the English language. Parents probably won’t find it offensive.

It’s still a reality. Temper tantrums can happen to children of any age! Sometimes, even adults!

You’ve done it. You’ve been there.

You see your child sitting in peace in the back seat. You know a storm will soon erupt, even though he seems fine now. He is a ticking bomb that will explode at any moment.

In an ideal world, you would want to prevent the tantrum from starting. Sometimes, this is just not possible. What do you do then?

What should you not do?

Parents are just as responsible for temper tantrums, whether you believe it or not. Next time your child throws a temper tantrum, you can decide how long it lasts and how many times it occurs.

Your response is the key.

Parents often make four common mistakes that can actually trigger temper tantrums instead of calming them down.

First Mistake: Try to Reason

Your four-year-old is screaming at the top of their lungs while her body runs across the white tiles of the aisle. You told her that you would not be buying her sugary cereal, and she was not happy with the news.

You look at your daughter, who is yelling, trying to ignore the stares of judgment.

“Sweetheart please get up off the floor,” you whisper. We don’t behave like this.

Nothing but screaming. You start to panic, trying to come up with ways to calm her down.


More screaming

“Honey this isn’t that big a deal,” you assure her. It’s only cereal.

Your logic is solid. It’s not that big for you. What about your daughter? The universe is in a state of chaos right now.

Most adults are able to find a reason for a stressful situation. Why not? Why not?

It’s not a good idea to try to reason with a child in the middle of a tantrum, especially if it is taking place in a public area.

Why? In the middle of a tantrum, your child will be in a state where she is unable to think rationally. It may seem like you are trying to talk her out of her temper, but it will not help.

Stay calm and move away from the area. You can help her to work through the big emotions she is experiencing by using deep breathing techniques, singing songs, or changing her focus.

Give In: This is the second mistake.

You’ve been standing your ground so far. Your son knows he can’t play video games before completing his homework.

You’ve always enforced the rule that you should not play video games until after homework. The day had been tough; the dinner needed to be made, and he wouldn’t stop begging. The pleading. The complaining.

“Please, mom!” he cries.

You say, “I’m sorry.”

“Just one! I promise.”

“No, honey. You’re familiar with .”

“But my friends can all play before they do their homework.”

“The Answer is No.”

“Please, mom. Please! Please!

You are exhausted. Your son has been relentless, and you feel a temper tantrum approaching.

You begin to wonder, “Would it hurt to allow him to break the rule just once?”

Unfortunately, yes. It can hurt.

I get it. It can be difficult to say “no” to your child, especially when you’re tired and want to relax. By standing firm and then giving up, you send a clear message to your son: I will eventually give in if you persist in your beggarly.

Your son will ask for the same thing tomorrow, the next night, and so on.

Stop the train. Stick to your rules and be firm.

You won’t be sorry in the end.

The third mistake is to lose it.

It is true that “two are needed to tango,” and nowhere is this more evident than during a temper tantrum.

It may seem impossible to stay calm while your child has a tantrum. It’s easy to become swept away in the emotions of a storm when they are high.

You may have asked your 4-year-old child to put away the Legos and prepare dinner before he had finished. He’s now sitting on the ground, yelling at the tops of his lungs and throwing Legos around the room.

You may feel tempted to give him a spanking or to shout, “Go to your bedroom, young man!” but I assure you that this would only add fuel to the fire already on the embers.

This is because your son knows that he can manipulate you by throwing a temper tantrum. He does this because he wants to gain his way. You are telling your son you’re upset by his behavior when you use yelling or spanking. This gives him an enormous boost of power.

Right, the attention you gave him was negative, but it was still attention.

Mistake #4: Bribery

Your son is not keen to get up for the first bell on his first day at school. It started as soon as you woke up your son and has continued to worsen throughout the day.

You’re now stuck in the drop-off line at the school with an angry child who has his arms crossed and refuses to leave the car.

The honks start coming from behind. You’re blocking the line.

You are mortified and turn to your child and ask him to get in the car and drive to school. He refuses to go.

Desperation is what grips you more than any other emotion.

“Fine,” you reply. I will take you to pizza tonight if you get out of your car and go back to school.”

Your son is not pleased that you bribed him, but he does. He reluctantly gets out of his car and walks to the school. You can now leave the drop-off line.

It worked. It worked.

It’s tempting to offer your child a prize or bribe them to stop throwing tantrums, but it could backfire. In your child’s head, you have reinforced the notion that if they throw a tantrum big enough, they’ll get what they want.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy, in calmer times, to imagine how parents would react to their child’s tantrums. In the heat of the situation, our best-laid plans can be thrown out the window.

We are trying to be reasonable. We are willing to compromise. We pay. We lose control. Then we feel guilty.

There is help available! The Positive Parenting Solution course is designed for parents like you who are searching for ways to deal with parenting challenges such as tantrums.

Are you wondering if this course is for you? View our course tour.

Still not sure about it? Join me for a FREE ONLINE COURSE to learn how to get kids to listen. No nagging, no yelling, or reminders are required.

We wish you success on your parenting journey, and we are here to support you at every stage!

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