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Child Tantrums - How to Handle Child Temper Tantrums

Updated on April 10, 2013
Unlike this picture, most temper tantrums will appear in explodingly vivid colors!
Unlike this picture, most temper tantrums will appear in explodingly vivid colors! | Source

Child Temper Tantrums!

Temper tantrums! Those awful manipulative techniques that are often proficiently demonstrated and perfectly timed to occur at your most embarrassing and vulnerable moments! Who trained those 2, 3 and 4 year-olds to be so good at executing the perfect temper tantrum?

And, an even more important question once we have reached this point, how do we train them not to use this new highly effective technique once they have seen just how well it really works? I do not have the only answer but I have the one that worked for me, and it only took one lesson. This is my story.

For those of you who have been reading my work, or chatting with me on FaceBook, you may feel you know me. Although I may still have a playful nature, in real life (the life when a computer is not between you and me) I am a slightly different person. I tend to avoid crowds and can be very shy unless I am in a group of people I know. All personality tests have indicated that I am a very introverted person. Knowing this in advance will help you appreciate all the more the story I now share with you.

Is the temper tantrum working?

The video below is great. I find it amusing how the little girl has to stop momentarily to see if the tantrum is having the desired effect.

We Started a Family . . .

My husband and I were not able to have children. Therefore, after sixteen years of wedded bliss we decided to start our family by adopting. We adopted a sibling group through the state of Texas – two boys and a girl, ages 7, 8 and 9.

I wish the description stopped there, but I feel that I must share a few more details with you. These children had been severely abused and neglected, and had spent a few years living on the streets with their mother who was a drug addict and prostitute. Their father was in prison. Needless to say, they had very few if any social skills. Emotional outbursts, such as temper tantrums, had been used more for survival rather than manipulation. And they had perfected the art, especially my daughter whom we had nicknamed the DQ (drama queen) kid.

Preparing a Plan to Battle the Temper Tantrum

I am sure that all of you have witnessed a temper tantrum perfectly executed in the aisles of a grocery store. As I stated earlier, most temper tantrums are used by children who are 2, 3 or 4. Therefore, when a child who is 8 years old and has had a lot more practice at the art of temper tantrums throws one, you can only imagine how skilled the performance has become. Believe me when I say, it was not pretty!

Without fail, my daughter always seemed poised and ready to demonstrate her proficiency when we went to the store. I had been an unwilling attendee of all too many of her highly skilled performances, and I was ready for the embarrassment to stop. No amount of discussion or discipline had worked, and I had become desperate. I had to have been desperate to have even considered, much less willing, to do what I did.

Once I had decided on a battle plan, I had to mentally prepare myself for what I was planning to do. This went so against the grain for me, that it would have been so much easier just to attend another one of her performances and chalk it up to another bad experience. But it was time to teach this young lady of 8 years of age that temper tantrums would no longer work to her advantage.

My resolve was in place when I asked her if she would like to go to Wal-Mart with me. I was ready, but was she? Little did she know what I had in store for her on this fateful day. I’m sure I smiled in anticipation of what her reaction would be to my response of her performance, but I also wondered if I really had it in me to carry out my plan.

This video is great! It is set up to show a toddler being interviewed about how she throws a temper tantrum and all the components that go with it!

Everyone appreciates a good performance, unless the performance is a temper tantrum!
Everyone appreciates a good performance, unless the performance is a temper tantrum! | Source

The Temper Tantrum Performance to End All Performances

I’m not sure which aisle we were in when the scene began to unfold. It usually began when she saw something she wanted, and I would tell her no, and from there it would escalate. And right on cue her performance began with the whining, then pouting. She soon progressed to foot stomping and arm flailing. This would be followed with louder wailing, clenched teeth and fists while jumping up and down.

Once we had arrived at this appointed moment, I knew the time had come for me to take action. I took a deep breath . . . thought about backing out . . . could I really do this . . . did I really want to do this . . .

No, I didn’t want to do this, but I had to . . . so . . . I took another deep breath, clinched my fists and started jumping up and down right there in the middle of Wal-Mart, right there next to her, imitating her actions and wailing the same words that she did.

As you can only but imagine, lots of heads turned to see my performance that day. After all, the performance of a 37 year old woman throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of Wal-Mart is not something you get the privilege of witnessing every day.

My performance, executed so embarrassingly well, stopped my daughter cold in her tracks and never needed an encore. “Mom, what are you doing?” she asked while grabbing at my arm trying to make me stop.

“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m throwing a temper tantrum! If you can do it, so can I!”

Needless to say, I never had to attend another one of my daughter’s temper tantrum performances in a store again. Also, needless to say, it was a long time before I returned to that particular store to shop.

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2012 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)

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Comments: "A Unique Approach to Dealing With a Temper Tantrum "

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    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Sharyn - I wish it had been you then, because I was soooooo embarrassed at the time. I am glad that it worked for me as well. I would have hated to have gone through that for no results. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      8 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      LOLOLOLOL Cindy ~ I loved this. This is SO much like something I would do. Now, I am not a Mom but was a very close second for many years as all my nieces and nephews were young and I was extremely close to the 7 of them. So yes, this is something that I would have absolutely done. Ha, I love it and so glad it worked for you!


    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      It would be interesting to know if it would have worked, but so many times in our society the children have learned what it takes to control and manipulate their parents. Parents need to learn what it takes to manipulate and control their children to form them into responsible citizens. Thanks so much!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I wonder if this technique would have worked for the family who were kicked off a plane on return from holidays. When their two year old threw a tantrum and refused to sit down. The pilot turned the plane around and the family were removed from the plane!! I wonder how the crew would have handled it if the mother had also started screaming and refusing to sit down!!! I think it's a great idea by the way, I have often been tempted but never had the guts to do it. I applaud your courage.

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      BakingBread-101 - I can see that the crying fit would work very well also, but I've thrown my temper tantrum now. I don't have to do it again. LOL

      Thanks for sharing. I bet someone will definitely benefit from reading about it here.

    • Purple Jubilee profile image

      Purple Jubilee 

      8 years ago from Kent, UK


    • BakingBread-101 profile image


      8 years ago from Nevada

      I ABSOLUTELY ADVOCATE the adult temper tantrum response and have done it myself. It's amazing how well it works. Another trick that works well is to screw up your face and act like you are about to go into a fit of crying and pretend to cry in big gut wrenching wails while rubbing your eyes. It works wonders.

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      ar.colton - Glad that I was able to take you back down memory lane! Thanks for visiting!

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 

      8 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      What a great hub! Years ago my mother told me that she used to deal with my own temper tantrums in the same way and I had totally forgotten. Thoroughly enjoyed this and will definetely be putting it to good use.

      Voted up, useful and shared!

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Happyboomernurse - because of our kids background, we often found ourselves being very creative. LOL

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      rsusan - no I was not smiling at the time. LOL

      THEHuG5 - I thought the videos were very cute too. You should have seen my dogs starting at my computer listening to all the temper tantrums I was reviewing when looking for the videos I wanted to use. They kept cocking their heads one way and then the other, it was so cute!

      alocsin - applause - that could have added to my embarrassment! Or, maybe I would have taken a bow! lol

      JamaGenee - well done! They do learn that it works and they learn to use it quite effectively.

      910chris - I like the full length mirror trick! LOL

      sgbrown - I guess we learn to do what we have to. I would not have thought that I could have done it either.

      Thanks all of your for stopping by!

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Ardie - yes I was at a slight disadvantage the whole time we parented those children. We were always reaping the things that others had sown. It was a difficult time period in our lives.

      Peggy W - Thanks Peggy! That thought had never entered my mind. I was on tape?!? Oh my! Now I am embarrassed all over again 15 years later. I can just see it now, new emplyee orientation - showing film and saying - this is what it looks like when a 37 year old woman throws a temper tantrum. Be prepared!

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Deborah Brooks - thanks Deborah! It embarrassed more than the stew out of me, but it worked. LOL

      AudreyHowitt - I am so glad it worked as well. It would have been a shame if it had not!

      kelleyward - if I was letting off steam it was because of the heat I was feeling from my embarrassment over my "temper tantrum"

      Giselle Maine - I am glad I only had to do it once. Not sure if I had more than one in me!

      Sherry Hewins - "doing the tuna" - how funny, I like that!

      Thank all of your for stopping by! I really appreciate you taking the time!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Yes, it had to be unbelievably embarassing for you, but you're right- the results achieved were worth the price you paid. Reading the article, I had the advantage of knowing this was a brilliant plan that worked. Had I seen you acting like that without benefit of the background events and your plan I imagine that I may have had a totally different impression of what I was seeing.

      I admire the lengths you went to in order to end the tantrums and the creative way in which you did it.

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      DonnaCosmato - thank goodness it worked. I would have hate to have gone thru that embarrassment for nothing.

      Cloverleaf - I can chuckle with you myself now, but at the time I was too embarrassed to chuckle too much.

      Happyboomernurse - I am sure I was a sight to behold. But I have to disagree with you, however, I was very embarrassed by my actions. But the price paid was worth the results achieved!

      Pollyannalana - how funny - but a classic. The more you gave in, the more she thought she was winning, and then the other shoe came down. lol

      Thank all of you for stopping by. I really appreciate it!

    • 910chris profile image


      8 years ago from North Carolina

      That is great and I wish I was in your Wal-mart on that day! I have three boys (see avatar) and of course they had there moments. If we were at home when it happened, I would grab the body length mirror out of the bathroom and place it in front of them so they could see themselves. Once they caught sight of themselves in the mirror they would stop and start laughing. One time for each child and that was it!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I didn't have to do it in Wally World, but DID do it once at home. When foot-stomping and holding her breath didn't get the desired respond, my #3 daughter (also a DQ!) would throw herself on the floor and pound the carpet while loudly wailing about her "horrible life". "Horrible" meaning she didn't the new toy or HER way. Ignoring her didn't stop the tantrums, of course, so one day just before I knew from experience she was about to hit the floor, I threw myself down instead, and pounded and wailed away. Similar to your daughter, she stopped mid-tantrum, asked what *I* was doing, and then said something like "That looks really stupid, Mommy". At that point it dawned on her it probably looked "really stupid" when she did it, too. End of tantrums!

      That said, when a granddaughter threw a tantrum in Wally World because she didn't get the toy she wanted, she thought making a scene in front of a dozen or so people in front of a check out would embarrass Grandma into going back for the toy. Oh contraire! I knelt down and whispered very firmly in her ear that Grandma was NOT above turning her over my knee "right here" and paddling her little bottom in front of all those people. Not that I advocate spanking, but because she lived out of state and we didn't see each other very often, she didn't know if it was an empty threat or not...and didn't want to find out. Later that day, she apologized for the display, then added "Throwing a fit always works on my other grandma" (whom she did see almost every day)!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      8 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I can understand why you had to prepare yourself to do this, I am not sure if I could or not. The first, and only, temper tantrum our daughter threw, she was just walking, and I gave her her first spanking. She only had 2 spankings her entire life. No pain, it was on the well padded diaper, but it worked. This is an excellent way to handle the problem when they are a little older than my daughter was. Embarrasement to a child at that age is a good deciplin tool! I want to also say that you are a wonderful person to have adopted these children, I applaud you! :)

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      LOL, a perfect response. I'm surprised you didn't get applause from the other parents in the store. Voting this Up and Useful and Funny.

    • THEHuG5 profile image


      8 years ago

      I like the way you set this up the vids are so cute! I watch my little cousins and other little kids and they throw tantrums because it ensures that they'll get exactly what they want. Their parents don't teach them to ask(not whine) for what they want. Throw a tantrum, get some ice cream. Why change a perfect technique?

      I love love LOVE how you handled it. That's absolutely priceless. I personally wouldn't be brave enough to do that in public so kudos to you. At least the kid gets to see how embarrassing it is too. Voted way up!

    • rsusan profile image

      Rika Susan 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      This took a lot of courage, Cindy, but your child sure learned a valuable lesson! And I am sure that other parents in the vicinity had one thought: 'Wish I had the courage to do that...'! Thanks for the smile, although I am sure you were not smiling at the time.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I'm smiling at this. Can you imagine the fun the employees had when watching that tape? Nice that it worked and it is a great idea for older kids to see just how silly they look when throwing temper tantrums. Good for you! Job well done! Voted useful and funny and will share.

    • Ardie profile image


      8 years ago from Neverland

      This is pure beauty - I LOVE unconventional parenting methods. I think it is a parent's right to embarrass the kids! I totally would've pulled the same trick if my children were older when they threw the fits. You were at a slight disadvantage because your daughter was bigger (in size too) so you couldn't just football hold her out of the store like I would a 2 year old. I admire your ability to be creative :)

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      8 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      The video was funny, when our daughter used to flail around on the floor like that my husband called it "doing the tuna" i.e. flopping like a fish. Thanks for a great hub.

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      8 years ago

      Wow, very impressed... what a fantastic idea! Although I'm sure it took a lot of courage to do it. Obviously though the outcome was worth the embarrassment and effort.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've heard of this but never used it. I guess it helps you let off a little steam just letting loose. Useful information!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      8 years ago from California

      Hugs to you, you brave woman! I am glad it worked!

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      thebookmom - It was definitely something that I had to prepare in advance for.

      Rosemay50 - I wanted to walk off and leave her as you suggest, but they had been abandoned several times and it would probably have backfired. I used the only technique I hoped would work.

      billybuc - I'm glad that I can laugh about it now, but I was not laughing at the time.

      Robin - It was a long time before I could chuckle about it. I was sooooo very embarrassed. I embarrassed myself more that she could have possibly done, but it was only once!

      Thank all of you for stopping by and commenting!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Ok first of all.. I really admire you for adopting these children.. that is so awesome.. If they do not already know but one day they will look back and realize what you did for them,.. that is so awesome.. and the next thing.. that was wonderful what you did in Walmart. I have spanked kids.. which is really taboo. but it shut them up, but I think I like your way better.. Embarrassed the stew out if them wonderful.

      I voted way up

      love your hub



    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      breathe2travel - it is good to know that it worked for you as well. I was so very embarrassed and would have hated to have done it more than once. I think she warned her brothers not to test me in this.

      Rolly A Chabot - We did do spanking at home, but it really did not do any good probably because of the abuses they had gone through. We eventually gave up on the spanking, especially with them being older as well.

      Anamika S - I often feel sorry for parents who have to go through their children throwing tantrums. It is sad. But my daughter learned that she did not like the outcome. Thank goodness!

      Rusticliving/Lisa - I am glad you enjoyed the writing and the videos.

      Ruchira - I accept the gold star, I feel I earned it.

      Thanks to all of your for stopping by.

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Up and across the board. Not only a saint but a comedian! I took a child, not mine (mine were saints as children-teens changed them though lol) shopping and told her she could have any doll she wanted. She wanted more than one and it was such a fit I agreed to two. Then she wanted them all! I took that child to the car with nothing. I cannot handle tantrums for sure. She never got a second chance with me.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Wow!!!!! I loved this and would have felt like cheering for you had I witnessed your performance in that WalMart.

      All the professional advice says to ignore tantrums but this seems way more effective. Also, the fact that your daughter was so old at the time this happened was probably a big reason why it was so effective. It had the elements of startled surprise and the ability to embarass your daughter, not you. In effect you became the mirror reflecting back how ridiculous a tantrum looks, especially when it's done by someone old enough to know better.

      Voted up across the board. I loved this!!!

      The "Ask a Toddler" video was hilarious.

    • Cloverleaf profile image


      8 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Cindy, I've definitely learned more about you today! I knew that you had adopted difficult children from interviewing you for the HubPages newsletter, but I was certainly surprised to read about "shy Cindy" having a temper tantrum in Walmart! What a fantastic and unique approach to turning your daughter's attitude around! Most people would never think of reacting in this way, but it seems that you found a method that works. I'm still chuckling to myself though. I really would have liked to have witnessed your outburst ;). Voted up and sharing!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Oh, wow! Talk about tough love! Glad it worked out so well for you, and thanks for sharing a definitely unconventional technique.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Our pediatrician actually suggested this tactic as well. I don't think it would work for me, but having as many resources available to deal with a tantrum is great. Different kids will have different reactions. I commend your courage to throw a tantrum in the middle of Walmart. I hope you could have a little silent chuckle with yourself afterward! ;)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      First of all, God bless you for adopting and taking on some serious issues in the process. Secondly, I'm laughing about the WalMart incident and I applaud your actions. Great hub and well-worth reading for any parent.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      8 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      That must have been such a funny sight but it worked so well done you :)

      Your daughter sounds exactly like my granddaughter when she was 3, thing was with her if you gave in she would always find something else she wanted too. I used to walk off and leave her and ignore her.

      Good story and great solution. Thank you for sharing.

    • thebookmom profile image


      8 years ago from Nebraska

      What great advice. I love the honesty and courage of your story. You are right parents do need to make a plan and prepare mentally. It is hard, but totally worth it.

    • Ruchira profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Well done Cindi :) I would also do the same thing!

      Thankfully, my son has not created a ruckus in store so far...but sure has a habit of asking to buy something or the other.

      Voted up and giving you a STAR of a GOOD MOMMMY!

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Liz Rayen 

      8 years ago from California

      Oh my gosh, that video is priceless! Way to go. Great Hub and info as always. Way to go! Voted up, shared and useful!


    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      8 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Well, I have seen many kids whine and throw tantrums to get their way. Honestly, I can't stand such kids. Giving into tantrums only increases future misbehavior. The Parents need to be firm in such situations. Awesome Hub, voted up and useful.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      8 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Well written... it is a growing trend across the globe. I suppose I grew up in a totally different world where spanking was allowed and it certainly got muy attention and taught me respect.


    • breathe2travel profile image


      8 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Rated useful and funny. As a mother of five, I have used the tactic successfully. Thankfully, it worked each time... usually with a child laughing at the realization of how ridiculous they looked.

      Warmest regards~


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