From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Taming Temper Tantrums

Total absence of humor renders life impossible.


At age five, my grandson, Michael, was prone to temper tantrums. Even Grandpa and I couldn’t dissuade him from yelling and screaming and crying when he didn’t get his way. When our daughter-in-law, Maria, turned to us for help, we conferred with our friend, Ernie, a retired child psychiatrist.

Maria embraced his advice and immediately put it to use.

Before spending an evening with friends, she took Michael to his room and insisted he throw a tantrum.

“What?” Michael’s brows shot up.

“I want you to get angry and start screaming. You have ten minutes before we leave, so you’d better get started.”

“What?” Michael asked again, wrinkling up his nose.

“Well,” Maria explained, “we’re going to be with friends tonight, and we all want to have a good time. I don’t want you to spoil our evening or your fun with Timmy. So, I want you to have a temper tantrum. Right now. Then you don’t have to do it later.”

Michael shook his head in disbelief.

“Go ahead,” she urged. “You have only eight minutes left. I’m timing it. So, start screaming.”

Michael started to giggle.

“Hurry up, Michael. Scream. Holler. Cry. Roll around on the floor and kick. Just do it! Hurry, we don’t have much time left.”

Michael doubled up in laughter . . . and his mother did, too.

Maria repeated the technique several times over a few weeks. No more temper tantrums. Now instead of saying, “If you don’t stop crying, I’m going to give you something to cry about,” Maria says, “If you don’t start crying, I’m going to give you something to laugh about!”

Kay Conner Pliszka

“How could I get up on the wrong side of the bed? It’s against the wall!”

Reprinted by permission of Dan Rosandach.

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