How To Stop Temper Tantrums With A Parental “Timeout”

Let’s chat about younger children first—say, toddlers. You can’t exactly leave them alone, but you can take a timeout in your own mind. “You just kind of quiet down,” says Tsabary. “Tell them, ‘Mommy’s really tired right now,’ and just go into stillness. And the [temper tantrum] will eventually die down because [your child’s] not getting the feedback they were wanting.” Whereas if you raise your voice to meet your child’s screams, you’ll likely be met with even more wails. 

Your child can transform their energy in a snap, says Tsabary, and they typically mirror your own. So get creative with it: “Lie down and tell the kid, ‘Oh, my stomach is hurting right now. Can you be my nurse?’ And your kid will change,” Tsabary notes. “That’s what’s so great about young kids.”  

Now, onto the brooding teens. With older kids, you can take more of a physical “timeout.” If you can leave them alone, remove yourself from the situation and let them know you’re giving them their space. “I say to my kid all the time, ‘Time for me to go on a walk,’ “Time for me to go upstairs,’ or ‘Time for me to let you have your space,'” Tsabary explains. 

Again, the worst thing you can do is match their energy. If, say, your teen storms off to their room and slams the door, don’t barge into the “lion’s den,” as Tsabary calls it. When your consciousness matches their level, you won’t be able to change much. Rather, “I just take it as my timeout, my time to exit.” 

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