adoption comeunity

Adoption Shops & Adoption Services


Parenting Book Reviews

Comeunity Home Parenting

Time Out, Tantrums and Throwing - Coping With Toddler Behavior

Techniques for coping with developmental stages of young children, from a parent education specialist.

By Kimberly Meehan


The newest turn in thinking of temper tantrums is to try to prevent them from happening.  The theory is that toddlers really do not like being out of control.  When you start to see the precursors to a temper tantrum then you want to begin to divert the escalating emotions rather than allow the child to tantrum if possible. You can redirect with just about anything available. 

Time Out

If you need to do a time out it is better for the parent to be part of that process to remind the child why he is time out , to keep the boundary of the time out and to assist the child as the time out comes to an end and the child re-engages in activity.  It is very helpful if some positive comment comes shortly after time out to show the child the behaviors that parents like/want.

Time out in a corner for toddlers is pretty ineffective unless you are going to stand right over them to keep them in the corner. I would not necessarily recommend a bed because a bed/crib should be a place that is safe for a child and should not be associated with discipline - also the bed can be fun after awhile particularly if there are activities to do on the crib rails. Any time out longer than 1-3 minutes is ineffective in delivering the message since toddlers have extremely short attention spans. Isolating in a crib takes the parent out of the child's view. 

Repetitious Misbehavior

Toddlers are in the stage of separating from the parent and beginning to recognize their own identity as an individual person.  As a result, they will test all the rules to see how far they can go and as part of their learning process they will test these things REPEATEDLY. 

Many times it helps to look at the environment and change it rather than the child. Moving all those knick knacks out of reach, giving the child drawer space in the kitchen or wherever for his personal use, give them some pots and pans for their use and remind them that others are for mommy's use. If they are standing in the high chair- put the belt back on and put the tray top on If they still stand up then they weren't hungry and you can end the meal.  Throwing food should be an automatic end of meal - they aren't hungry if they are throwing food. Toddlers will invariably always eat immediately when food is placed in front of them after they are done eating they will start with their favorite annoying tactics - stand up, throw food, and so on. 

Remember there is a developmental place for throwing.  Most babies start that at around 10+ months.  A child needs to learn how food feels in their hand, how it looks as it goes through the air and the sound that it makes when it hits the ground.  So for children just starting this behavior I would consider letting them do this for a time.  Developmental throwing of food phases out over several months - generally 4-6.

Kimberly Meehan works with the Healthy Steps program out of John Hopkins where the focus is on increasing parent education on the growth and development of children 0-3 in the pediatrician's office.


Parenting Books

Becoming a Parent

Parenting Your Baby

Parenting Your Child

Special Circumstances


Parenting Books



Comeunity Home