How Did I Handle This Tantrum?

Updated on August 24, 2013
E.S. asks from Hackettstown, NJ
15 answers

So DD and I went to Home Depot to return a shower head. That went swimmingly as I involved her to give the shower head to the cashier.

We left and when I was putting her in the car seat, I accidentally pinched her with the latches. I said I was sorry and rubbed her legs but that escalated into a full blown tantrum of her wanting me to STOP THE CAR RIGHT NOW AND DO THE CLICKIES AGAIN BECAUSE I PINCHED HER. I continued to apologize and explain that stopping the car on the road is not safe but she kept escalating. I was starting to lose it and said she would have a time out at home or not go to the pool after quiet time. Then I ignored her and just raised the volume on her music.

Then I got a phone call and had to lower the music which started another tantrum. Apparently I couldn't find the song she wanted. The same timeout threats prevailed.

Finally when we got home I carried her firmly upstairs and held her on the couch to calm her down.

She was exhausted from waking early and maybe I was too hard on her.

How would have you handled? The tantrum home was 25 minutes!

**I was driving hands free and it was a medical call. I told them now wasn't a good time. I also checked my daughter to make sure her skin wasn't in the latches.

What can I do next?

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answers from St. Louis on

I would have ignored the phone call. Tantruming child, phone call, driving, do you realize how lucky you are you didn't get in an accident?

Other than that, been there, done that, had the footprints on my seats to prove it.

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answers from Columbia on

I would have pulled the car over, turned off the music, and said, "When you're quiet, we will drive home." And then sat silently until she stopped. I'd probably pull out my book, put my earbuds in, and just wait her out calmly.

I certainly wouldn't have taken the call, turned on the radio, or made empty, impossible to fulfill threats.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You did good by not stopping the car to redo the clickies. That would have sent her the message that tantrum=getting her way.

As for the music, I would have immediately turned her music off and put my music on-loudly. I would have ignored her completely.

You didn't say whether you followed through and gave her the timeout as threatened. I certainly hope so because empty threats send her the message that mom doesn't mean business.

You seem to be afraid of using discipline with her. Every one of posts implies that she rules the roost. She needs rules and boundaries. You are not there to be her friend, you are her mom. Take charge now or regret it later.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I am so glad that you didn't stop the car and redo the clickies. Don't ever answer the phone when she's having a tantrum. She knows she has power over you when you do, because you change the way you handle her when you are on the phone. (Plus, it's dangerous to add the phone to the mix of her screaming - too stressful...)

Invest in some ear plugs and keep them in the car for the next time she is screaming in the back seat. Don't turn on music at all. All she was doing was substituting the music for the clickies. She needs to learn that when she demands and has a tantrum, that she gets NOTHING.

I know from all your posts that you worry constantly about being too hard on her. I wish SO very much that you would get over this worry.

It is hard work teaching a bull-headed child. Being a mother isn't just about being sweet and loving. It's about being tough, too. If you can't be tough, then you teach all kinds of bad lessons to your child that you just can't unteach later on. If you can't say no to or ignore these kinds of demands from your daughter, they will escalate and she will treat everyone she comes across like this. She will have NO friends because she will think that everyone has to cater to her. She will also turn out to be an awful pre-teen. You really want to have to deal with THAT.

So, stop worrying about being too hard on her. This worry is why you continue to have conversations while she is tantruming. NO more talking during her tantrum. No threatening time out. When she is tantruming in the car, turn right around and take her home. No park, no store, no swimming pool. Nothing. Carry her firmly in the house and deposit her into her room without saying one word to her. Do not let her out of her room. When she is done with the tantrum and asks to come out, THEN talk to her. Do NOT fawn over her, hug her, or act understanding about her behavior. Instead, you need to firmly tell her that when she acts like this, she loses the privilege of getting to go do fun things. Tell her NO ONE likes little girls who have tantrums. No more holding her on the couch while she is acting like this. You're giving her far too much attention for her bad behavior. She has absolutely NO incentive to stop the tantrum.

Stop coddling her feelings. She has to learn that the world doesn't revolve around her. It's a mother's job to do that.

There are plenty more times to be sweet and loving with your child. Tantrum times are NOT them.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You did fine. Never give in to tantrums - they'll keep holding you hostage if you do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I think you did great. Don't show her any emotion. No anger, no frustration (although I bet you were digging fingernails into your hands) No coddling, no bribing, no pleading, no attention at all. Just ignore her.

Perfect. Good job, Mommy.

Once she realizes her tantrums can't get a response, she won't use them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

You weren't hard on her at all. She was allowed both tantrums-one for 25 minutes, and then you held her and calmed her down. When were you hard on her?

I personally would have disciplined her after a warning when she started escalating the first one, even if I had to pull over the car to do so. Yes, she was pinched, that happens. You soothed her and apologized and then she was OK. The rest was a full on fit for control. I would not have allowed that while I was driving. I can hear my dad now "Do you want me to pull over this car?..." He meant it so we stopped crying instantly.

You don't say her age but unless she's older, like 5 or 6, the threat of a delayed consequence like removal of pool will not prevent future impulsive tantrums. If she is older this would only work if you follow through so she knows you mean it. Have time-outs succeeded in nipping her fits? I think tougher measures are needed if she's screaming at you for turning down music and commanding you around.

Don't be afraid of being too hard on her so much as being afraid of letting her act badly. You're obviously not an angry abusive person, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, you do want her to achieve impulse control and respectful manners so you have to be firm since she sounds like a spirited child.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would have stopped the car to "redo the clickies" and i will tell you why. I did the exact same thing to my son and i didnt realize that his skin was still in the clicks. He was screaming. He was about 3 years old, he is now 4. He kept screaming and I did the same as you, I just kept telling him that stopping the car would not do any good. He kept screaming "mama it hurts, it hurts"... so in frustration i pulled the car over and realized his skin was pinched in the clickies. Boy, i felt like the biggest POS mom ever!

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answers from Santa Fe on

No, you weren't too hard on her at all. Don't give in to tantrums and let her get what she will just teach her that having a tantrum will get her way and make her more likely to have them in the future. Sounds like she was tired.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

If it is safe and it is not imperative to get somewhere in a certain time frame (a non-cancelable appointment for instance) we will pull over and sit until the tantrum stops. If stopping is not an option because of safety or other legitimate reasons (being almost home is a reason too) we drive with no further contact with the one throwing a tantrum and tell our other 2 not to pay any attention to them either. I can't tell you how many parking lots we've pulled into and made the one throwing a tantrum sit on a planter curb or the back of the minivan. We get stares but I don't care. I'm not abusing them. They are making it dangerous to drive the car.
There would have been no music until the tantrum ended after the buckles. There certainly would not have been any music after the tantrum over the music itself. The car would have been silent, save their tantrum if they decided to continue it.
There would have been no pool or anything fun the rest of the day, especially if I thought being tired was the cause. A nap would have been mandatory. Or at least quite time lying down on the bed. When we suspect overly tired we do spend a little time helping them unwind themselves so they can rest then leave them to rest on their own. If the tantrum was thrown out of spite, in order to control they go straight to their rooms and that is the end of contact. The 2 types are very easy to tell the difference between.
When the kids are throwing a tantrum because they are tired, hungry, sick, hurt etc they can't shut it off like a light switch. We are more inclined to help them through to calm themselves. If the tantrum can be turned off just as fast as a light switch, like when you have to answer the phone or when they are offered "if you stop I will" then it's a controlled and manipulative tantrum to gain control and get their way. While having you re-do the buckles may not sound like a big thing by itself, when added to a bigger picture it can mean a lot more in gaining control.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

All you can do is ignore the child at that point. A legitimate upset started the tantrum, so it's not like you can really be upset with her for crying, BUT at this age, they escalate so quickly and just woooon't stop. What I have done (when it's safe to do so) is quickly pull into a parking lot and just get out. Leave the child in the car (air conditioning on, etc), and just stand right outside the car. That takes away their audience, and often stops the tantrum in its tracks. Obviously there are some neighborhoods where you wouldn't want to do that, though, as it wouldn't be safe to stop. Please realize that you can't appease your way out of a tantrum. When she started wailing again because you turned "her" music down, then she's just being bratty. Heck no. At that point, switch it to your music, and turn it up as loudly as you like. When you get home and she's still wailing, put her in her room and shut the door until she's calm again.

The good news is, they don't stay 2 forever. (I'm assuming that's her age!)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would have ignored the tantrum after telling her what would happen if she did not stop, and then followed through with the threat (there would be no more fun activities that day at all, no pool, no tv, nothing). My son had a tantrum once, and only once. The pay off was not what he had been hoping for.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would have skipped the call then returned it at home once she was calmed down.

This is pretty much what I would have done.



answers from Kansas City on

For the most part I think you handled it fine. Sometimes they flip out on stuff and they don't let it go, it's part of being a kid, being tired, whatever.

Now, I will add, only because you asked, not because I don't sometimes fall prey to poor choices as well, that when you turned up the music on her screaming, that was really passive aggressive and probably should have been avoided.

Ignoring her is fine I think, especially after you say to her that you are sorry and you will try not to do it next time. Depending upon my mood I would have done one of two things...I would have pulled the car over and told her I couldn't concentrate on driving because she was too noisy and I would start again when she could be quieter so I could be a safe driver...OR I would have let her tantrum all the way home and taken her to her room and told her she can rejoin you when she stops crying. I might have held her for a minute and cuddled if I really felt it was a tired issue and then I would have told her she can continue to cry or come downstairs with me.


answers from New York on

No you were not too hard on her! Great job! These next few months will be hard but SO worth it when the tantrums stop because they do not get her what she wants!

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