Outbursts & Temper Tantrums

How to deal with your child's temper tantrums and angry outbursts. Tips from our experts for parents of toddlers on up to parents of teens.

Attention-Seeking Behavior in Young Children: Doís and Doníts for Parents

Even though she was only three years old, Mallory knew exactly how to get attention from her parents. When she wanted a Popsicle before dinner, she’d whine and hang on to her father’s pant leg as he cooked. She’d continue until her dad caved in; of course, by that point, he was willing to do anything to make her stop. When she didn’t want to go to bed, she’d run around the house as her parents chased her; eventually, they’d give up and let her stay up an hour later. And when Mallory wanted to watch a video, even though she was told no numerous times, she’d scream until she eventually got her way. Why do young children seek attention in ways that can be so annoying? And why do we, as parents, give in? Read More

How To Discipline Your Kids In Public

Parenting sometimes feels like theater, where everyone is a critic—and my family took center stage this past weekend. The morning started off so hopeful. I had all three kids and my husband on board to visit the Museum of Modern Art, which is close to where we live in New York. Minutes after our arrival, all three kids started to unravel.“I’m hungry,” said one. “I’m tired,” said another. They took turns complaining, and I took turns gently ignoring them and redirecting the conversation. Their impatience and whining began to escalate. Read More

Teen Temper Tantrums: 3 Steps to Stop the Screaming

You thought “The Terrible Twos” were bad. Now you’re dealing with “The Terrible Thirteens,” and it’s just as bad, if not worse. When you ask your child to help around the house, inquire about school or say no to something they want to do, your teen explodes. When she was two, she cried, kicked and screamed on the floor. At 13, she’s yelling, slamming doors, storming out of the house and screaming, “You can’t control me!” Read More

Disrespectful Kids: How to Get Your Child or Teen to Behave with Respect

We all know that kids can act in many disrespectful and rude ways to parents: they can slam doors, roll their eyes, and tell you they hate you, to name a few. It’s natural to get very worried and frustrated and wonder if these types of behaviors constitute out-and-out abuse, or just “rudeness and mild disrespect.” How can a parent know when these rebellious and rude behaviors have crossed over a boundary and gone way too far? Read More

How to Talk to Teens: 3 Ways to Get Your Teen to Listen

You know the drill: you’re trying to talk to your teen about curfew. Or dinner. Or absolutely anything—and they pretend they can’t hear you. They start an argument with you, or give you an eye roll and a "Whatever." Or they turn up their music. They won’t lift their eyes from their screens. They scoff or grunt in your general direction. There’s no eye contact, no acknowledgement, and absolutely no hint of, “Yes, Mom, I understand what you’re saying to me.” Read More

5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face: How to Handle the Most Challenging Parenting Issues

Watching my child struggle without stepping in to “fix” things for him was one of the hardest things I’ve personally experienced as a mom, even though I knew it was the best thing for him. And the truth is, from the very beginning, being a mother is a balance of taking care of your kids while letting them grow up and learn from their mistakes. Your role of simply loving and protecting your baby from pain and discomfort changes to one of accepting that your child or teen will need to experience natural consequences for his or her actions. The hard part (for them and for us!) is that these consequences almost always include some discomfort, disappointment or pain. Read More

Losing Your Temper with Your Child? 8 Steps to Help You Stay in Control

Do you ever struggle with temper tantrums at your house? You know what they involve: yelling, screaming, bad-language, and all-out loss of control until you almost can’t take it anymore and you just want to…put yourself in time out? Yes, I’m talking about our own parental "temper tantrums," which we’ve all been known to experience at one point or another as we raise our kids. Read on for tips on how to stay in control. Read More

Defiant Young Children and Toddlers: 5 Things Not to Do

Do you ever find yourself wondering, “When will this child stop defying me and start doing what I ask?” It can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention exhausting, dealing with a young child or toddler who finds it necessary to challenge your every request, act in a defiant manner, lose their temper, and be generally disruptive or annoying. Parents oftentimes find themselves drained as they come up against this behavior, and wind up feeling hopeless about how to handle the situation. They might also start worrying about what the future holds for such a strong-willed child. The good news is there is help in dealing with defiance in young kids—and the solutions are easier than you may think. Read More

Signs of Parental Abuse: What to Do When Your Child or Teen Hits You

Jennifer’s son began hitting her when he was 14 years old. “I just didn’t know what to do,” she told us. “If anyone else had hit me, I would have called the police. But this was my son! I didn’t want him arrested but I wanted the abuse to stop. I was ashamed to admit to my family what was going on and I knew they would take action, even if I didn’t. The situation was intolerable but I couldn’t take action. I felt trapped, like I was in a car without brakes.” Read More

Anger, Rage and Explosive Outbursts: How to Respond to Your Child or Teen's Anger

Everyone gets mad sometimes, children and adults alike. Anger is an emotion that can range from slightly irritated to moderately angry, all the way to full-blown rage. A child’s anger often makes us feel uncomfortable, so there can be a natural tendency to try and change the situation for your child, so the anger will evaporate. Or on the flip side, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “bringing down the hammer,” to put a stop to the anger through intimidation or punishment. But the fact is, your child will experience situations that may trigger anger throughout life. You can’t stop the triggers, but you can give your child the tools to understand anger and deal with it. Read More

How to Keep Calm and Guide Your Child to Better Behavior This Year

Have you been looking back on the last year, reflecting on how things went with your child? If so, perhaps you feel frustrated when you think about his or her behavior—and your reaction to it. Maybe you feel like no matter what you do, nothing changes. But understand that positive change can happen in your family. You’re not stuck in those negative patterns—you really do have the power to improve things, starting today. Read More

6 Ways to Manage Tantrums, Misbehavior and Meltdowns During the Holidays

If you have a child or teen who misbehaves, the holidays can be a source of infinite stress and anxiety. Your individual expectations of the holidays can be seriously at odds: you expect to have a nice, shared time with your whole family and maybe attend some larger family gatherings; they expect to get every gift they demand, and they intend to spend their school break staying up late, sleeping in, and playing video games. The resulting holiday season can be filled with tantrums, obnoxious behavior, and lots of yelling and screaming. Read More

Demanding Children and Teens: Is Entitlement Just a Stage?

Your 10-year-old son begs you to buy him the newest video game. He cries, “All my friends have it. Why can’t you be like all the other parents? They buy their kids the stuff they want!” Or, your 16-year-old daughter is annoyed that she has to drive the old beat up Chevy to school. “I don’t want to be seen in this piece of junk! Have you seen what kind of cars the other kids drive!?” Read More

Manipulative Child Behavior? My Kids Are "Too Smart for Their Own Good"

Does this sound familiar? "My middle schooler blackmails me emotionally – he cries that I 'don’t care about him and love his brother more' when I ask him to stop playing his video games. It's true that he's a more difficult kid, and his words make me feel so bad that I often feel guilty and let him continue to play." Or "My teenager negotiates with me relentlessly to get her way. 'If you let me go to the party tonight,' she'll say, 'then I promise I'll get all my work done tomorrow.' I figure, why not? So I let her go. But then, 'Oops!' She conveniently forgets all her promises." Read More

Stop Aggressive Behavior in Kids and Tweens: Is Your Child Screaming, Pushing and Hitting?

When a child is aggressive toward others – hitting, screaming, pushing, throwing things – the natural response of the people around him is to withdraw. It’s frightening to see someone whose anger has reached a point where it seems out of control. If your elementary or middle school-age child is behaving aggressively toward others, it’s important to address the issue now, before it escalates to serious consequences such as suspension, legal problems or serious harm to others. Read More

Young Kids at School: 4 Top Issues That Cause a Rocky Start

The beginning of a new school year can be a mixed blessing for parents: you might be relieved that your child is back in a routine and you no longer are organizing all that down time, as well as dread if you have a child who struggles in school. If your young child has had a rocky start to the school year, you are not alone! The following suggestions can help you get your child on the right track right from the beginning—even if they've already stumbled. Read More

Do You Fight with Your Child Every Night?

Homework, chores, TV, computer time, bedtime: are each of these areas potential land mines that can start a fight with your child each night? If you answer that question with a “yes,” you’ve already taken the first step toward making things better. You’ve recognized that there is a pattern of behavior and interaction with your child that isn’t working for you or your family. Often, as parents we get stuck in repeated problem situations with our kids and don’t even realize it. But, if you’ve already figured out that every evening during the week, no matter what you do, things always seem to erupt into a fight — you’ve identified a pattern of behavior that can be changed. Read More

Does Your Child Challenge Authority? 4 Things Parents Can Do

Does it ever feel like your child or teenager has an answer for everything—and usually takes the exact opposite position on what you’ve just said? Many kids struggle with authority, and have trouble following limits or rules, complying with requests and or generally are disrespectful to others in society. Some wear their defiance on their sleeves and are angry in their refusal (How dare you tell me what to do?!). Others are more subtle and simply “dig their heels in.” Read More

Explosive Child Anger: Taming Your Toddlerís Temper Tantrum

Sarah is trying to get her 3-year-old son Sam into the car to go to the library, when he suddenly decides that not only is his car seat a form of torture, but that he doesn’t want to go to the library after all. While trying to maintain her composure and calmly get Sam buckled, Sarah tries to talk him into it, reminding him of all the fun they have at story time and how much he enjoys picking out new books. Sam will have none of it. So begins the kicking, screaming, and body stiffening that Sarah deals with on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis with her spunky toddler, making her feel frustrated and question what she’s doing wrong. Read More

How to Handle Temper Tantrums: Coaching Kids to Calm Down

When I answered the phone, I heard the shrieks immediately. It was obvious that a child was having a nuclear meltdown on the other end of the line and the mother, exhausted and frantic, was calling the Parental Support Line for help. As the mother tried to explain what was going on, I struggled to hear her over the commotion.  “We’ve been dealing with this for over an hour now. When is he going to stop?” she asked. These kinds of calls are not at all uncommon on the Parental Support Line. I talk to parents every day who have kids who come completely unglued at the drop of a hat; these parents  struggle to cope with the resulting chaos. Believe it or not, there are ways to help eliminate tantrums from your daily life. It starts with understanding the meltdown. Read More