Nightmares Before Christmas: Avoiding Holiday Tantrums

If your child goes from nice to naughty the minute you hang the wreath, use our genius anti-tantrum tricks to keep the peace.

Why Meltdowns Happen Now

The holidays are a time when some of the sweetest, warmest, and funniest family memories are made. Unfortunately, they're also the occasion for scenes you wish you could forget -- most of them starring your child: tantrums in the toy aisle, sobfests in Santa's lap, manners missing in action. But when you consider the frenzied way we celebrate the season, it's easy to see why kids are prone to such outrageous behavior right now. "Try to look at the holidays from your child's point of view," says Vicki Panaccione, PhD, a child psychologist in Melbourne, Florida. "There are lots of crowds, noise, flashing lights, music, presents, and strangers dressed as Santa ho-ho-ing at them everywhere they turn." The sensory overload can easily overwhelm a little kid -- and throwing a tantrum is one of the few ways he has to cope with the stress.

So how can you deal with your child's not-so-jolly behavior when you're just as worn out by the holidays as he is? We asked experts to share their best advice for avoiding the most common tantrum triggers this season -- backup plans included!

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