Mommy Needs a Time Out

Post to Twitter .

Since time out doesn’t seem to be working for Ryan and Owen right now, can mommy take one instead? I will gladly go sit in the other room with the door closed.  Alone.  Quiet.  Away from the temper tantrums.  Quiet.

We’ve had a tough stage with Ryan and the temper tantrums have resurfaced from his early terrible two stage.  But this time it’s far worse than it was back then.

When he was going through these tantrums at the age of 20 months it was clear he was frustrated and he didn’t know how to and couldn’t communicate what the frustrations were and what was causing them.  But with the tantrums now he clearly knows what the frustration is and can verbalize it, but instead he flat out refuses to listen and he will scream and cry and yell and hit and become so upset that you can’t calm him down.

What should we do?  How do we stop this?  How do we deal with the tantrums?

What we have been doing is definitely not working.  If we put him in time out he will just scream.  And I mean scream.  It’s not crying, but screaming at the top of his lungs.  If we take something away (like a favorite toy) he doesn’t seem to care.  You can not talk to him and reason with him until he’s calmed down.  And when you do talk with him he knows exactly what he did and why he was being naughty.  And his response “I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.”

Clearly, he did mean to though.  Otherwise he wouldn’t have done it.  He knew what his actions were and why they were naughty.

Mommy:  “Ryan, why are you in timeout?  Why was mommy so upset with you?”
Ryan:  “Because I didn’t listen.  Because mommy said to put my jammies on and I didn’t listen.”
Mommy:  “That right Ryan.  And why else is mommy so, so sad right now?”
Ryan:  “Because I hit mommy.  I didn’t put my jammies on and I hit mommy.”
Mommy:  “And why did you do that Ryan?  Hitting is not nice and it is not acceptable right.”
Ryan:  “I sorry momma.  I didn’t mean to.  I love you sooooo much.”
Mommy:  “I love you too buddy.  But we cannot hit.  If you are frustrated and upset you need to tell me and not hit ok?”
Ryan:  “O-tay momma.”

He gets it.  He definitely gets it.  But that is what is so frustrating.  He does get it, but he still does it.  I know he’s only 3 and a half years old.  And I know that temper tantrums happen.  But HELP!  It’s wearing mommy and daddy down right now.  We’re both stressed with work.  We’re up late at night to get everything done that needs to get done.  We’re tired.  We’re crabby.  And our patience is worn thin.

I know that part of Ryan (and Owen) reacting the way they have been with tantrums and such is a direct reflection of our stress and lack of patience.  I am aware of that.  And I am trying to recognize it and not let it show, but it’s hard.  And it’s especially hard when you have a toddler throwing a full out temper tantrum because he didn’t want to put on his pajamas.  Little tasks like that should never result in what seemed like the entire family crying last night (yes, mommy and daddy included!).

My cousin is going through the same with her 2 year old right now at It Keeps Getting Better.  And between the two of us, we need your advice.  HELP!

How do you handle tantrums?  Is there an easy way to avoid them before they start without just giving the child whatever it is that they want and letting them rule your household?  Does anyone out there have any simple advice to offer?

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. My heart breaks for your situation! That must be incredibly frustrating for you! I wrote my reply in the Mom Loop Forum where you linked your post in… Hope it helps give you some ideas of ways to diffuse a situation:

  2. I agree with Kelley, and Michelle. Tantrums fail without attention, if you give it, they win. If they see you acting bothered, they win. I was a daycare teacher for tods & twos for several years. The thing that, without fail, worked best? First, speaking to them calmly and trying to reason, just a few moments (Calm down – can you tell me what’s wrong? Why are you so upset? Stop crying so that we can talk, I can’t hear/understand you if you are crying/yelling), to try to give them a chance, and help encourage the talking bit. If they chose to continue – move on. Choose a place, a corner, a rug, a chair, whatever works best/easiest for you. Make it the “naughty ____” (naughty rug, naughty chair, etc). When you tried talking and they won’t stop, you, again – calmly, tell them “OK, if you don’t want to stop then you are going to the naughty ____,” as you are picking him up & bringing him there. Then plunk him down in the designated spot and “You can just sit here until you decide to calm down, then you can come talk to me.” And walk away, pointedly. Make a “show” of turning your back on it and leaving, this is important, this is where they start to get a clue – hey, mom won’t pay any attention to me while I do this!, and finally realize it’s futile. If he’s carrying on for ages, you can occasionally walk back over, and ask if he is ready to calm down & talk yet, and if he’s not, again, say OK, come talk to me when you are, turn heel, and leave. Eventually, he’ll get the picture. I promise.

    We had a little girl (she was one of mymost favorite children ever and I still miss her dearly) who was spoiled rotten by mom, she was mom’s little “princess,” and she got her way, always. She was so bad, that she had gotten to the point where she’d start crying – and end up passing out! Mom (who was a single mother of twins, no money to spare!!) was beside herself, took her to all sorts of specialists, neurologists, etc, only to be told in the end that there was nothing wrong, it was just behavioral. This child had literally figred out that she could make herself pass out, in order to get what she wanted!! Within a few months of myself and my co-teacher having charge of the room, her tantrums were all but non-existent, simply from doing what I described above. Consistency is key, you have to do it every.single.time, and you have to follow through with it, and leave him be until he is calm. If he gets up before stopping, you simply (calmly) bring him back and set him back down, as many times as it takes, each time telling him he can come talk to you when he calms down, and walking away from him. It may take some time but he WILL get it.

  3. Awww…yes the good old 3 year old.
    I HATE 3!!
    I have 3 boys and been though this 3 times and yes 3 is the hardest age by far!!
    You have to show them YOU are the boss at 3 or they will run over you forever.
    However first things first, this is just what I do and you can take it or leave it, but I’m telling you from lots of experance so don’t just leave it to fast.
    1. If he is in daycare its not going to get better anytime fast, YOU are not the boss most of the time…just part time and you already are losing the battle.
    2. Make sure there is not another reason for the fits…like autism. My oldest had major melt downs and turned out he had aspergers and things like bright light would set him off.
    3. Be firm but calm. calm. calm. 3 year olds feed off of your stress…and turn it back on you. Can’t expect him to calm down if you can’t.
    4. TALK LESS…MOVE MORE! Don’t overly explain things to a 3 year old…they don’t care. Don’t tell him why it was wrong to bite (for example) blah blah blah…just pick his butt up and put him on his bed walk out and shut the door. He knows what he did wrong and you will be shocked how well this works.
    5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Don’t be to hard on yourself and let some things go…if he is going to meltdown over putting on his p.j.s then put him RIGHT to bed in what he is wearing. Pick what hill you want to die on. Biting his brother is a much bigger deal then not putting his shoes away.

    Wow I am not looking forward to my daughter turning 3…maybe I’ll just ship her to grandmas untill she’s 4! 😉

    God’s blessing on you and your family

  4. I think all parents can realte to this! I know I can- I could have written this post myself, with a few tweaks as to age and gender!
    I’m with Libby: “I found that 3 was the worst year for both of them. Forget the terrible 2s they just didn’t exist for us.”

    I don’t think there is any easy answer. All the theories work beautifully when they’re in a reasonable frame of mind, but when they go into the unreasoning tantrum mode, you just have to ride it out! Which is where time out comes in!
    I’ve found that “dealing” with the situation is most profitable when everyone has calmed down and the children are receptive. I firmly believe that the seeds sown in the love I show them, and the talks we have then will bear fruit- even if tit may not be obvious during this very trying stage!
    Meanwhile, re-read posts like “25 things I love about Ryan”. There are so many good times, too!

  5. Now that my boys are 5 and 7 I can happily say those times are behind us. I found that 3 was the worst year for both of them. Forget the terrible 2s they just didn’t exist for us. I think you are doing the right thing with the timeout. I wouldn’t say it eased the tantrums at all but as long as we made good on our threats and they got timeout after 3 warnings. I think consistency is the key and when our boys knew what will come next after they’ve had their first 2 warnings then that’s all you can do. My husband is really good at the diversion techniques and getting them to shift their focus…me… not so much.

  6. I know that tantrums are a difficult thing to deal with. Heck, my 4 and 8 year olds still have them sometimes. So I sympathize with you.

    You say that if you put him in his room he screams. So what? Let him scream. Anything else is just giving him attention, which is what he is after. My son screams his head off sometimes. His problem. He’s the one who will end up with a sore throat.

    Just my 2 cents. I hope things get better for you soon.

  7. I came over from blog frog…I have been going through this with my daughter who is just turned 4 a couple of months…

    This is what I have done….I would have her sit in time out, talking to her spanking, all kinds of things. It was like we had a full on screaming session several times a day. I hated it and none of it worked.

    What has worked is that my daughter loves to watch tv…I don’t let her watch it to much (at the most is a couple hours a day, but mostly 2 – 1/2 hour show each day). So if she throws a fit then she does not get tv the remainder of that day and the next day. If her fit continues then I count the days as she is throwing a fit. It has been up to a week before. She hates it. It is one of the things that really means something to her.

    It does not work perfectly, but it has worked with 99% of those fits. It did take a couple of weeks for her to get it. The other thing is being consistent. I warn her when she starts to be naughty that she will loose her tv privilege if it continues. Then I start counting the days. If I let one small fit slide then the next one is tons worse. Also, I have been paying a lot closer attention to if she is tired or hungry because those are the times that she really gets out of hand.

    I hope that helps….have a great day (tantrum free)

  8. Oh my god, I sooooo get where you are coming from. My little guy is almost 3 and we are having SUCH a hard time. I’m a teacher and off for the summer and have noticed a BIG difference in the past 2 weeks just being home and giving him more attention through play, reading, etc… So maybe finding more ways to give him one-on-one attention might help? I know, when you work full time, that’s impossible. Trust me, I know.

    The other thing we do is the ‘uh oh’ song. When he shows signs of losing it, we say “uh oh” really loudly and slowly. he knows that it means he’s in danger of being sent to his room. That will often stop him from losing it.

    If it doesn’t, we drag him in his room, kicking and screaming, tell him as calmly as possible he can come out when he’s done, then shut the door. Usually with no one paying attention to the tantrum, he doesn’t go on very long.

    I have no idea if any of these might work for you. But I just want you to know I support you! It’s soooo tough!

  9. I feel your pain. Our youngest is 2…going on 3, and she throws the worst temper tantrums. Out of my 4, she is by far the worst. Sometimes I attribute it to lack of discipline early on. She was born with a CHD, and had to have a few major surgeries early on, so we’ve just always been a little softer on her than the other kids. And NOW…we are PAYING for it BIG time! She screams, throws herself in the floor, and sometimes is just downright unruly to the point I want to lock myself in the bathroom for a time out.

    I can’t bring myself to do it, because of not wanting the big kids to behave in a likewise manner towards her, but when she acts up, my husband will start yelling/acting just like her. She stops and looks at him with like she can’t figure out why he would possibly act so ridiculous.

    GOOD LUCK in figuring out a method that works for you!

  10. Here’s what I say.

    Get down on the floor and kick and scream and carry on and on when he starts. Startle him. Act like he does.

    Or, if possible, video tape him…so that he can see what he looks/sounds/acts like. If we had had a video camera, I would’ve used this option many times!!

    Good luck…these challenges stink…BIG TIME!!

  11. I am going through this with my 2 boys as well, I have a 16 month old, and an almost 3 year old. The boys pre-school teacher gave us some great handouts, that I can email to you, but in general it suggests taking away toys, time outs, and talking to the child.

    One thing, that I personally do, that seems to work is redirect. For example, my youngest who is 16 months is a big tantrum thrower, and when I since one coming on I will try to redirect his attention, but when he’s in trouble, and I can’t redirect the situation I will either walk away from him, or put him in another room. ( I check on him) But I’ve been told if I just ignore the tantrum itself, then he won’t be getting attention, and thus be wasting his time on the tantrum.

    My 3yr old is doing the tantrum thing as well, his are because he wants more attention, with him I take away toys, time out or I will put him in his room until he is “ready to be nice, and play nice” sometimes that results in him falling asleep, and some days he just screams.

    I guess the main thing is trying to figure out why the tantrum is coming, if it’s just for attention, ignore it or deflect it.

    My DH and my GMIL are more into the spanking to handle tantrums, and I guess in some cases that has worked as well.

    Sorry this is so long, but if you want to email me sometime I can scan and email those papers I have on tantrums if you would like 🙂 I hope things get better!

  12. Hmm ok so then clean out the room and start with nothing. He can earn each toy back gradually.. See he may know AFER the fact but in the moment I don’t think he does know. I think the connection is not made in the brain, rage comes as rage nothign else.. I will keep you in prayer hun..


  1. […] few months ago I posted about Ryan’s temper tantrums resurfacing (Mommy Needs a Time Out) and while I knew what was prompting some of the behavior, I didn’t full understand the big […]

Leave a Reply to Jamie Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: