Mixed Up Mum’s Manual: 10 Ways to Diffuse a Tantrum

Theo has only just turned two so I’m fairly new to this arena. But we all know tantrums can occur well before ‘the terrible twos’, unless you are lucky enough to be blessed with a ‘unicorn child’ (a rare and mystical being with a consistently calm and appeasing temperament. It’s hard to know the exact number of children with this condition, but research shows your child is estimated to have a 1 in 645,000,000 chance of having it).

From the little experience I’ve had so far, I have compiled a list of techniques that I’ve developed in a desperate attempt to maintain sanity and survival. I have also provided a helpful success rate figure for each one.
1. Ignore them. 

Success rate: 20%

The chance of this working is in direct correlation to your determination and stamina. Eye contact is proven to ensure total failure of this method of working. It’s also common for this method to have a higher chance of working if you are in your own home at the time the tantrum detonates, as you are less likely to be subjected to disapproving stares from strangers as your child does their best impression of the witch melting in the Wizard of Oz in the middle of the Cereal aisle at Tescos.
2. The Naughty Step.

Success rate if child respects the step: 85%

Success rate if child sees the step as a game: 3%

Enough said.
3. The Bedroom.

Success rate: 60%

I’ve used this method a couple of times, and it tends to work. However there are, of course, a lot of distractions in the average child’s bedroom. A bedroom with a stair gate or a door handle they can’t reach is helpful. 
4. Remove yourself from the situation.

Success rate: 55%

Take cover, run and hide. Preferably somewhere with a lock (i.e. the toilet or, even better, the garden shed). This one is a wiser option if, like me, you are terrible at ignoring them. Obviously not one to be used when in public. To my knowledge, I believe it’s still frowned upon to abandon your children in the middle of the street (tempting though it is). However, this one should come with a warning; be prepared for your living room to potentially get trashed in your absence (who needs wallpaper anyway?).
5. Use the TV as a weapon.

Success rate: 35%

No, I don’t mean throw it at them. You will only regret it when you want to watch Netflix that evening and there’s a massive crack in the screen. I meant try putting on their favourite programme. It really depends how far into the tantrum they are. If you are too late you may end up with a screaming child AND Peppa Pig in the same room, resulting in you wanting to shoot yourself in the face, which isn’t going to help anyone. Except you maybe.
6. If applicable, get Dad involved.

Success rate: 1%

I’m not really sure why this is on the list but hey ho. This one is obviously only relevant if Dad is around at the time, which is probably quite unlikely seeing as my husband spends most of his time in the toilet on the rare occasions he’s in the house. Chances are, if your child isn’t listening to you then they aren’t going to give a tiny rat’s ass what Daddy has to say. Although this one deserves a small success rate of 1% because I know a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend whose brother’s sister-in-law’s uncle managed to subdue a tantrum circa 2005.
7. Ring your Mother/Grandmother.

Success rate: 40%

These women have experienced potentially billions of tantrums and SURVIVED. In theory they should have enough tactics to dispel even the most thermonuclear ones. In practice that’s not always the case. You see most mothers, mine included, will develop a mental block resulting in them conveniently forgetting how fucking awful these few years are. I for one will welcome this amnesia with wide open arms when the time comes. A good tactic is to put Granny on the phone to the screaming child. Children have an inbuilt urge to want please grandparents and great grandparents. They can’t resist it, it works in the same way as my inability to refuse cake, biscuits and chocolate (and a Marlboro Light if it’s waved in my face for long enough).
8. Shout back.

Success rate: 70%

The chance of this one working is in direct relation to how closely you can get your voice to resemble Batman’s. You want to find a balance between ensuring your voice reaches a higher decibel than the little turd in question, without alarming your neighbours enough to prompt them to contact social services.
9. Threats.

Success rate: 65%

Once again, this one works better the sooner you can deploy it. Ensure you are careful with what threat you choose, I obviously wouldn’t condone anything too sinister… The threat to confiscate a popular toy is a good one. And don’t be too outlandish with your threats, because if the tantrum continues you will have to carry out the threat to show who’s boss (for example, perhaps don’t tell them you will send them off to live with the crazy lady who you keep catching having a rifle through your wheelie bins. This person actually exists in my life. Although once again, this might actually be a desirable solution to the problem).
10. Bribe with food.

Success rate: 98%

This isn’t one you often see suggested by the Super Nannies of this world. Why? Well I’m guessing because you are basically rewarding them for being a dick and encouraging an unhealthy relationship with food. Blah blah blah. It bloody works though! My motto is: if all else fails, bring out the donuts.
Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favour.

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