Give Her a Squeeze
"It sounds crazy, but sometimes when my 4-year-old throws a tantrum, I give her big hugs. It works almost every time -- if I can control my own temper and anger to remember to give her a big squeeze. I guess it makes her feel safe and reminds her about how much I love her. Normally, after a big hug, we can talk more rationally and address what started the tantrum in the first place."
-- Chris Harbison, West Islip, New York
Try a Time-Out
"When my 16-month-old is acting out, I put her in a chair and hold her there with my hand on her abdomen. When a child that young has a meltdown, they often don't know how to pull themselves together. So I just hold her there and tell her to breathe deeply. We stay there until she calms down and I can talk to her about what happened."
-- Michelle LaRowe, Hyannis, Massachusetts
How to Give Time-Outs
Look the Other Way
"With my 2-year-old, I basically just ignore her when she drops to the floor in a tantrum. She stops when she doesn't get attention or what she wants. When she stomps her feet and screams when she is frustrated, I ask her to calm down and try to use her words. So far this is working."
-- Alison Shields, Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Offer an Alternative
"My 21-month-old gets frustrated when he is not allowed to do everything his 5-year-old brother does. When he is really upset he will start banging his head against the floor. At first I was really alarmed by this. I started giving him a pillow, which many times only made him more upset. The one thing that seemed to work was saying, 'I know you are frustrated. Are you done hitting your head? When you are we can go read a book.' Eventually the idea of doing something else got him to stop."
-- Heather Martin, Franklin, Massachusetts
Never Give In
"If my 4-year-old acts out because he wants a cookie, then there is just no way he is going to get a cookie. And if he continues with that type of behavior, then he'll start losing other things as well. Now he realizes that tantrums and meltdowns are not going to get him anywhere, so he just doesn't have them."
-- Tanya Mitchell, Monument, Colorado
Disciplining Kids of Different Ages
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Give Him an Ultimatum
"When my 3-year-old acts up, I remind him of something fun we have planned -- like a playdate or a trip to the park -- and then I let him know that if he can't handle it and behave, then we'll have to cancel the outing. That usually gets him to calm down pretty quickly."
-- Tina Bryson, Los Angeles, California
Keep Him Busy
"I don't want to worry about my 5-year-old acting out at the store, so I make sure to continuously engage him with activities and create tasks for him: Bring me this, look for that, hold this for a second, identify the color of a sign, watch the lobsters in their aquarium, and so forth. His little mind is so busy trying to help and catch up that he has no time to think about throwing a fit."
-- Barack Levin, Atlanta, Georgia
Find the Fun
"Backing my 6-year-old into a corner and demanding he do what I need him to do just doesn't work -- and it usually results in a tantrum. But I have found that he can be easily redirected. So when he starts to whine or throw a fit about doing something, I turn that activity into a game. If I can find some way to make it fun, then he's on board."
-- Kelly Lopez, Framingham, Massachusetts
Change the Location
When my 3-year-old is having a tantrum, I pick him up and bring him into another room -- even if it's to put him in his crib for a time-out. But removing him from whatever started the meltdown usually helps to stop it. And picking him up and holding him also offers some comfort to help him calm down."
-- Carrie Henick, Smithtown, New York
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