Two-year-old Abby and her mom were snuggling on the bed one afternoon, enjoying some stories and quiet time together. When Abby got rough with one of the picture books, her mother said they would need to put the books away. Little Miss Abby threw her pacifier on the floor in a fit of rage. Then she screamed in a shrill voice, “Mama, Get!”

Abby’s mother wasn’t about to be told what to do by an unreasonable and unruly little girl. She lowered her voice and said, “No, Abby. You will need to get it yourself.”

Abby proceeded to throw a wild tantrum for a full thirty minutes. She kicked, screamed, threw her little body around on the bed, and yelled demands. All the while her mother sat quietly on the bed, pretending to be peacefully reading James Dobson’s book, “The Strong-Willed Child.”

After thirty minutes, Abby climbed off the bed. Her mother sighed, believing the tirade was finally over. Abby sat down beside her pacifier on the floor and in a determined voice demanded, “Mama, get!”

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  Proverbs 25:28


“I must stay calm. Don’t scream. Don’t crumple to the floor. I am the grownup.”  These are just a few of the self-talk phrases I have had to use in the middle of a temper tantrum. That is, a temper tantrum thrown by my toddler, and not my own.

The fury of a full-fledged tantrum can be an amazing thing to watch…in other people’s children. But have you noticed that typically your own little ankle-biters save their most extreme emotional outbursts for the most inconvenient moments? That’s when you notice everyone else within a city block, stopping to stare in awe. That’s not a sympathetic “aaawww” either. You can see judgment in their eyes. I shudder.

So what is the parent of a hissy-fit throwing preschooler to do? First, try an ounce of prevention. Most little people will start to lose it when they are tired, hungry, over-stimulated, struggling with a transition, or keeping an unrealistic schedule. Do everything in your power to eliminate or control these triggers. Second, when you recognize that your preschooler is exercising some serious self-control in a situation that might otherwise end in a tantrum, praise him with words of affirmation and encouragement.

When the inevitable happens and your preschooler loses control and flies into a raging tantrum; stop, drop, and roll. No, I’m kidding, although it might shock your toddler into stopping the temper tantrum. Really what you need to do is make sure your child is safe and then leave the area immediately. I am talking IMMEDIATELY. Do not engage this little tornado in any conversation. Simply remove the audience. Yep. It’s a show all right and it is for your benefit. When you are out of sight and not interacting with your drama king or queen, he or she will likely allow their rage to fizzle out. If you have a really determined tantrum thrower who figures out this strategy and starts to follow you around with his tantrum, then quickly move him to your predetermined Time Out spot and let your preschooler calm down in a safe and boring place.

Temper tantrums demonstrate a lack of self-control. As parents, if we don’t reward such behavior with attention, it will stop. No one likes to deal with adults who yell, stomp their foot, and throw themselves around a room when they don’t get their way. Deal with your preschooler’s tantrums now so that his behavior may be pleasing to others and glorifying to God.


And so I Pray…

Patient God, Thank you for loving my children even when they are driving me crazy. You are awesome! Thank you for providing your son, Jesus, as a model of how we should exercise self-control in our lives. I pray that __________’s walk will be blameless. Help him to control his temper and to demonstrate feelings appropriately. Teach __________ your ways and renew a right spirit within him. May __________ bear fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Amen.


*Taken from my book, Parenting on Your Knees.



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Parenting on Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Years

Strap on your sense of humor and don some knee pads as you prepare to be equipped for/by Parenting on Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Years. Vicki Tiede provides parents of preschoolers tools and strategies for parenting and praying when sleep and alone time are at a minimum. You will find hope and encouragement to nurture and pray for your child’s character, behavior, social skills, development, and spiritual growth.

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