Toddler Doesn’t Have to Mean Temper Tantrums

Yelling. Fighting. Hitting. Tantrums. Biting. Sound familiar? They are all typical behaviors bad-tempered kids use to make their needs known and to get their way. But here’s a critical parent secret: Hot tempers are learned so they can be unlearned. And calming a hot temper is not only doable but also essential for growing up in this sometimes violent, unpredictable world. Here are six anger management tips from The BIG BOOK OF PARENTING SOLUTIONS.

  1. Commit to raising a controlled kid. Studies show that parents who feel strongly about their kids showing self-restraint succeed because they committed themselves to that effort.
  2. Model coolness. One question parents should ask nightly is: “If my kid had only my behavior to watch, what would he have seen today?” Self-control is learned first at home.
  3. Set a rule: “Talk only when calm.” Refuse to talk to your kid until you and your kid are calm. If needed, lock yourself in the bathroom. Enforce the EXIT rule: walk away until calm.
  4. Identify stress signs. We all have unique physiological stress signs warning us we’re getting angry: flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, dry mouth. Recognize your child’s signs and help him identify them and keep pointing them out until he recognizes them in himself.
  5. Teach your child healthy ways to control that bad temper. Here are a few options:
    • Use self-talk. Teach him an affirmation: a simple, positive message he says to himself in stressful situations. For example: “Stop and calm down,” “Stay in control,” “I can handle this.”
    • Tear anger away. Tell your child to draw or write what is upsetting him on a piece of paper. Then tear it into little pieces and “throw the anger away.”
    • 1 + 3 + 10. As soon as you feel you’re losing control: 1. Tell yourself: ‘Be calm.’ 2. Take three deep, slow breaths. 3. Count slowly to 10. Together it’s 1 + 3 + 10.
    • Abdominal breath control. Inhale slowly to a count of five, pause two counts, slowly breathe out, again counting to five. Repeating the sequence creates maximum relaxation, and reduces stress.
  6. Use the “Rule of 21.” The trick is to find a strategy that matches each kid’s unique temperament and comfort level. It will only become a habit if it is practiced until automatic and usually that’s 21 days!

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Dr Borba’s new book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has recently been released and is now available at