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Talking Down Tantrums

Dan Saelinger

Then you'll just go to bed hungry! Been there. I'm going to give all your toys away! Said that. Or if you're anything like Dafney Amilcar-Rodriguez, you've actually done it. “I made my son pack up his toys and put them on the curb for garbage day,” Amilcar-Rodriguez, an Albany, NY, mom, admits. (Don't call child services just yet: His toys were not trashed.)

“I don't even remember what he did, but in the heat of the moment, I really didn't have the patience,” she says.

“You have to remember, children aren't melting down to upset you,” says Lynne Reeves Griffin, author of Negotiation Generation: Take Back Your Parental Authority Without Punishment. “Children are doing it because they can't control those emotions.” And unsurprisingly, threatening, yelling, or ignoring your crying child is only bound to make a bad situation worse.

 “If you're not calm, you're going to say all those things you know you shouldn't say,” explains Claudia M. Gold, M.D., author of Keeping Your Child in Mind: Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums, and Other Everyday Behavior Problems By Seeing the World Through Your Child's Eyes. So take a minute to pull yourself together. Once you're levelheaded, try replacing those errant threats and empty promises you're used to making with these expert-recommended tantrum-tamers instead.