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How to keep calm during toddler tantrums - lots of great resources here

How to Maintain Your Zen When the Kids Have Lost Their Ever-Loving Minds

I bet you read the title of this post, looked at the photo and thought something along the lines of, “Is this chic seriously trying to tell me a beach ball is all I need to stay calm when my child is having a level 10 melt down?… Go sell crazy somewhere else sister.  I ain’t buying it”.

Don’t worry, the beach ball photos are from my momtastic post this week – all about our favorite way to burn off some steam indoors.


As for maintaining your zen – I’ve got back up for that, a collection of wonderful posts on how to keep your cool when the kids have completely lost theirs.  Before I get there, though, let me back up a little and explain why I’m posting on this topic.


Over the summer I gave myself a little break from studying up on the business of parenting.  Now that it’s fall, preschool and toddler group are in full swing and I’m once again talking with educators, attending child development seminars, and reading up on parenting issues. 
In doing so I’m noticing that regardless of the topic (building self-esteem, fostering positive sibling relationships, promoting good behavior, etc.), the same advice keeps resurfacing: remain calm, implement positive discipline vs. punishment, place value on effort and intrinsic rewards, and teach emotional intelligence.


My goal for the coming year is to learn as much as I can about these subjects.  Since I learn best by teaching, I’m also going to try to share what I find with all of you – starting today.



One of the things I struggle with most as a parent is remaining calm in the face of open defiance by my children (mostly just my 3 year old now but I know it’s just a matter of time for the 16 month old).  But I know, because I’ve heard it over and over, that it’s one of my most important jobs as a mom.  Doing so not only helps my children calm down themselves, it also models positive conflict resolution, builds their feelings of self-worth, and strengthens the entire family unit.


But how to actually do it?  Here are some posts I’ve found to be tremendously helpful:


  1. Seeing Tantrums as Distress, Not Defiance – For a healthy dose of perspective.
  2. Thought Replacement Therapy – While not actually a post on dealing with tantrums, I’ve still found it to be extremely useful.  When I find myself thinking, “C is acting like a maniac”, I try to replace it with something like, “A year ago I was worried C would have trouble coming out of his shell – he’s really becoming a confident and expressive kid”.  Obviously this doesn’t always work but it’s another nice way to try to put things in perspective.
  3. Keeping Calm When You Want to Explode (via Not Just Cute) – This post is a huge lesson on self-examination.  It goes into great detail on how to really figure out your own melt down triggers as well as techniques to diffuse them.
  4. How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids… Or at Least Try to – This post, as well as it’s follow-up, is one mom’s very truthful (and helpful) account of the yelling that goes on at her house and what she did to stop it.

That’s what I’ve got for you, now what do you have for me?  I’d really love your feedback.  Do you struggle with this?  What have you found that works?  Please share in the comments below.



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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts November 4, 2011 at 5:21 am

Love this post (like most others)…really great stuff, thank you. I have a 4 year old, a 3 year old and 16 month old and boy oh boy do I need some seriously DEEP breaths sometimes!


Heather @ Creative Family Moments November 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Timely… as most of our kids are bouncing off the walls from halloween candy. ( :


Anonymous November 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I haven’t read through all the posts you shared yet but I can definitely relate. I have a 5 year old & a 1 year old & I’m a SAHM. I usually apologize to my 5 year old after yelling at her but I feel absolutely awful for doing it in the first place. I know there is a better way. What really breaks my heart is I think she has learned my bad habits. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous November 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

You are speaking my language with this one! Sometimes I’m really proud of the way and handle myself… other times not so much! It’s amazing how my attitude determines whether we have a good day or a bad day… hopefully the good days outnumber the bad ones!
-Kat C


Anonymous November 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

BTW, I have found that hunger directly correlates to our moods in this house! If everyone is well-fed and exercised then we almost always have a better day! -KC


Jessica Z. November 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

So great to see this post! I am starting to think about this as my almost 15 month old starts to exert her independence more and more each day. Have you checked out Janet Lansbury’s blog/Facebook page called Elevating Child Care? I have learned so much from her posts.


The MOB November 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

This post couldn’t have been better timed for me. Three year olds are tough and zen, I am not. Looks like I will be doing a little reading this weekend. Thanks!


Cecilia November 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm

And I’ve bookmarked all of these!!


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com November 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I agree with you guys, I’ve found that keeping MYSELF rested and well-fed helps just as much as doing those things for the kids!

Jessica – I’ve read (and featured) some of Janet Lansbury’s stuff on fostering independent play but I’ll have to check out some of her stuff pertaining to this topic.

The MOB – 3 year old are tough! I’ve heard the “terrible twos” are a misnomer and it’s the 3s you really have to watch out for. So far I’m finding it to be true!


suzannelee November 5, 2011 at 2:45 am

i have a 2 and a 4 yr old and these post were just perfect for me today. exactly what i am dealing with.


Megan Hemphill November 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I know this sounds dramatic, but I nearly started crying while reading this post. This is something I struggle with daily with my 3-year old and by nightfall I’m beating myself up for being a horrible mother. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone and giving some excellent resources to read through.


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com November 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

My heart goes out to you Megan – we’ve all been there!


The Twin Coach November 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I am so honored that you included my post (Keeping Calm When You Want To Explode) along with these other great resources! This topic of parenting stress and “losing it” is such an important one for all of us to be open about & discuss. When I wrote that post originally so many readers told me they were so grateful about the honesty because they thought they were the only one who had those feelings.

I’m so happy to have discovered your blog. I look forward to looking through it more! And thank you again for sharing my post. :)


Student Mommy November 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

Wow. Found you through Not Just Cute. This article is AWESOME!!! I have a three year old. She is not badly behaved or naughty, but she has a will about twice the strength of mine, and I had a Super Strong Will as a child. I am a step Mom to two teenage boys, and was raise Victorian – Alfa Female Rules with Iron Fist… I have had a torrid time. The boys came from a difficult divorce, so me and my iron fist didn’t work too well. Now the Bunny is where she belongs (princess), and generally listens (but has EVERYONE wrapped round her little finger), but when she says No!.. well… Mexicans could learn a thing or two about stand-offs from us. I realise I am the adult here (although some days I would give my eye teeth to throw a tantrum) so it’s my response that needs to change in order to get the favourable response from the Princess Bunny. Thank you so much for doing all your research… it makes my own seem far less “endless”


Jennifer February 17, 2012 at 7:48 am

Thank you so much for this post! I’m not even sure how I ended up on your blog (probably Pinterest?), but ever since I found it recently, I can’t get enough. This in particular is such a great topic for me right now, and I too, love to learn as a parent! The perspective I gain from acting as a “student of parenting” can really help me get through what might have otherwise been a disastrous day with my 22 month old son in our battle of wills over who’s ‘to-do’ list will actually get done. I love the inspiration to focus on empathy and the child’s development as the key to getting in their head and understanding where they are coming from. I usually call my early-childhood-educator mother for that advice, but I love learning it on my own as well. :-)


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