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Handling Toddler Tantrums: Soothing the Savage Beast

Most parents have had to deal with tantrums from their children particularly when kids are at a young age. Matt Rae offers a few tips to soothe the savage beast.

Tantrums are just a part of the deal when it comes to toddlers, and kids in general. We are lucky enough to have a pretty ‘good’ kid. Or so I’m told by my partner. Honestly, I have no experience with kids other than our own, so I take her word for it.

Dealing with a tantrum can be difficult. But, after this long I was pretty sure we had it down pat. A year or so ago it was much easier, but with increased mobility, vocabulary and attitude, sometimes it becomes more difficult. Either way, he is generally pretty chilled, and rarely gets into full swing. In all honesty, I had seen him lose his temper perhaps twice in a year.

Up until about three weeks ago.

There has been a lot of change in our house in recent times. Toddlers, like most humans, seem to be resistant to change. Maybe resistant is not the right word, but if you have one you know what I mean. A simple break in routine can cause unforeseen issues, or create a strange habit that wasn’t there before. I find it rather interesting how dramatically they can be effected by what appears to be such a small thing to us grown ups. Anyway, coupled with some changes at home, he has also just started pre-school. Exciting times.

Pre-school is more for the sociability aspect. He does not get a lot of time with kids his age, mainly cousins older than him and adults. Which is all good, but I notice when wecandh do take him to a toddler dominated environment, he is a bit hesitant. With pre-school we hope that will be addressed as he moves through life and into big school. 🙂

Anyway, back on point. Around three weeks ago, the tantrums started happening more frequently. So be it, we can deal with that. Although, something was different, they had this odd, almost violent streak to them. The screaming, the general behaviour, not like the usual stuff. This had us both understandable worried, and at the same time scratching our heads.

Is there something wrong?
Once again, as parents in our generation seem to do, we turn to the internet once again. Surely, we are not the only ones. Well, this activity kind of raised more questions than it answered. We are both discuss the toddler times pretty actively all the time, and this one had us both searching for a solution/answers. Was something wrong?

A while ago, prior to all this going on the tantrums were getting a little more frequent. So we sat down with him one day and discussed what his ‘punishments’ should be for said behaviour. My partner has always said giving him choices is a good thing. To which now I tend to agree, I think it works well giving him some control over what goes down. Anyway, the rules were set and agreed:

1. He says sorry. If the behaviour continues, move to 2.
2. He goes to his room for a short time out.
3. If he refuses to go to his room, he is taken. And must stay a little longer.

Pretty simple stuff really, but it has been effective. Should note, ‘sorry’ means he must also explain WHAT he is sorry for.

28ggdarcy-2jpg-39f615ff5416bbcaThese rules were not helping with these new age tantrums. Nothing was. He once screamed and banged on the wall etc for a good 25-30 minutes. Something had to be done.

We filmed him
Much to his distaste, we filmed him going off at full pace. Later on when he had calmed down, we showed it to him. ‘That’s not me’ he said. I think even he was a little shocked at his rage. I am pretty confident making him aware was a good step.

The Glitter Jar
Pinterest had paid off again. My partner found ‘the glitter jar.’ Designed for such uses as time out, with a spin. So one day while I was at work, they got to making one. It is simply a clear plastic jar with glitter glue and water inside. The principle is the same as an hourglass.

When he is raging, he goes to his room and shakes the jar. (bit of physical outlet) Then sits there and watches the glitter float around. When it stops, it is time to come out again.

He is a little resistant to it, but when he has used it the effect is great. Watching it soothes him, and I think being able to shake it, and have the jar as his own, still gives him control over SOMETHING. When he is no longer able to control his emotions.

For Now
For now, it is back to ok. We have also made a conscious effort to avoid things that set him off, good old misdirection etc. But at least for now, the mean streak is gone. I know it won’t be for good, but we shall see.

I think giving your kid something of their own, that they alone control, helps. The jar is a simple solution, but seemingly effective.

How do you calm down the raging beast?

Matt Rae writes on his experiences as a first time father and other hair-raising adventures on his own blog; Unsimplelife.


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  1. Clean livin

    Wonder if it would work in the federal parliament?……….

  2. Roswell

    On a Christopher Pyne tantrum?

  3. Ricardo29

    I kept wondering when it was going to get to Tony and Joe. Until I realised it was real. Then I started thinking, their tantrums mightn’t be as fierce as this little one’s but they have both had some dummy spits. Perhaps they should both be given glitter jars for when they feel like saying nasty things about people like Gillian Triggs, or Bill Shorten.

  4. Annie B

    Matt Rae – – – What a really really great article ! …. seriously.

    It gives some fantastic tips as to how to deal with the terrible ‘twos’ and shocker ‘threes’ tantrums. … ( At about 4 they seem to begin to understand a little, about consequences – we hope.)

    Matt – – Not for one moment do I think your child is a spoiled brat. He couldn’t be, with parents who devise such simple but very effective techniques for handling tantrums, and who obviously want to help their child to the extent you want. So – take heart.

    At a certain age ( I believe ) … kids and teens begin to realise their ability to control and exert power. hmmm !! Ponderings for parents. This realisation is not confined to a specific age – some are early at realisation, others late, and some never at all – until adult age.

    Extreme change ( like moving house etc. ) affects ALL – even the pets ( particularly the pets ). …. Not to mention the adults who are doing all the moving and reshuffling, and the kids who have lost their beloved ‘home’ ./ bedroom etc…. I would have to think that your sons’ behaviour was a direct effect from those changes, whatever they were. … But then – kids have to get used to change – as we all do. Not easy, but do-able.


    What then, do we do with adults who chuck ‘tanties’ ? ……. Happens so very often in many walks of life. ….

    Worse, what do we do with the ‘adults in charge’ in our own Parliament who lose all sense of propriety when hurlling abuse ( a la Pyne ) … literally foaming at the mouth, and directing their childish angst at anyone within ear-shot ? …. It makes no bloody sense, except to underscore the nature of the abusing person. …. Abbott was brilliant at it, in opposition. He ain’t so brilliant now, is he – even given he hasn’t got someone on the opposite side, firing nasties at him …. methinks there’s too much gentleness on the Labor side of things ( at the moment !!! ).

    Maybe we should put them in the naughty corner permanently – that is by way of the next election – sooner than later I hope.


    I did not mean to denigrate your great article by getting into the poltical arena, but will leave my above comments where they are – as they are applicable ( I think ?? ) …. Meantime, thanks for a fantastic article, and some superb ideas to pass on to my own family. …. NINE littlies under the age of 5 ?

    Bedlam in a basket !!

  5. bobrafto

    why was I thinking about Abbott while reading this?

  6. Rotha Jago

    The piece about tantrums and managing angry outbursts in little children takes me back…..a long time.
    Although tantrums and toddlers are not new, it is worth considering the effects of fluoridated toothpaste
    On children’s brains. Surprised? Consider that Sodium Fluoride is attracted to calcium. In the developing brain calcium has a changing role to play. Hardened by Sodium Fluoride this calcium creates irritation. Could it also be worsening tantrums?

  7. stephentardrew

    Good at the time but thank heavens I don’t have to do that again. Getting lazy in my old age.

  8. abbienoiraude

    Flouride. Good grief.

  9. Annie B

    @Rotha Jago

    Darned good question that.

    There’s been a lot of controversy over fluoride in water recently.

    Needs much more looking into – but who would do that ? …. Not the Government, that’s for sure.

  10. Wally

    I wonder if a smack on the bum when he first put on a tantrum would have stopped repeat performances? It worked for my 3 kids and I smacked my kids rarely because any hint of receiving a smack put a very quick halt on misbehaviour. My generation didn’t have the Internet to look up fanciful ways to deal with disobedient kids so we used proven methods and our kids didn’t grow up to be king hitters and snipers. Maybe knowing that being smacked hurt them made them more aware of the pain they could inflict on others so they were more restrained?

  11. Florence nee Fedup

    Rotha, does that make Europeans brain damage, as in their countries I believe one find Fluoride naturally in the water. This is a ancient land, where many chemicals, including fluoride has been leached out of the soil, no longer in our water supply.

  12. Annie B

    @Florence ….

    I was so interested in your comment that I did a bit of googling. Found the following – which was fascinating:


    Seems that fluoride is found in many areas – air, water, soils and living organisms. … I don’t know how reliable this link is, but it is worth a bit of a look.

    IF fluoride is prevalent in so many areas of life, why would we need it added to our water supply ? … To allegedly help to prevent tooth decay. ?

    So many things these days are just ‘things some bods have said we MUST have, as opposed to things we actually ‘NEED’.

    I wonder ?? …………

  13. Annie B

    @Wally ….

    “Spare the rod and spoil the child” ……….a very old saying, and I am not fond of the ‘rod’ bit. …. But I think it is still relevant – to a degree.

    I smacked my kids rarely, and when needed, it was always on the bum – but I think it was as much the indignity of receiving such chastisement, as it would have been any feelings of pain they experienced . …. a few layers of clothing is a good buffer to an inflicted whop on the backside … it was more mental / emotional – than physical.

    Didn’t hurt them one bit. I have seen the results of children not chastised in ANY way, and frankly I try to avoid those children if possible – they ( generally ) have attitude, they are unruly and uncontrollable, are cunning, and learn quickly how to manipulate a situation to their advantage.

    Adults should be seen as such – adults, and demand respect from those on the lower ranks – the kids.

    I say the above sentence with absolute purpose …. how far do you think a person in the mail room ( if such a thing still exists these days !!! ) … would get, if they fronted the CEO of a company with attitude, unruly and uncontrolled behaviour, bad language, and attempted manipulation.

    They’d be out the door on their a*se as quick as look atchya.

  14. Wally

    @Annie B when I say a smack I mean a tap (not a hit or wack) on the bum and as you suggest it is not the force that has the effect in deterring bad behaviour it is the surprise, scare, humiliation, embarrassment and/or all of these that works. I wish many of the anti smack brigade would read your comment because you describe the effect from minimal force extremely well.

  15. Annie B

    Thank you Wally. 🙂

  16. paul walter

    Annie and Wally congrats to you both.

    BTW was going to say more but some sort of ambush advertising had me lose that post.

  17. Annie B

    Thank you Paul ….

  18. Pingback: Take that, Liam’s education!! | Hunnenpony

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