Mommy Time-Outs by Jennifer Holt

My little boy, Jack, will be turning 2 in only four months, and I have a feeling that I’ll be putting Jennifer Holt’s tips for reclaiming 2s from tantrums (in the March 2010 issue of ParentLife) to good use! But sometimes it is not just your child that needs a time-out. Parents need time-outs too.  Consider the following extra tips from Jennifer!

Mommy Time-Outs

123_angry_2s.jpgSometimes despite all our best efforts, toddlers can get the upper hand. If you feel your blood pressure rising, it might be a good idea to take a time out of your own.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Walk away to a quiet place. If you are in your own home, be sure your toddler is in a safe place and take a moment for yourself. You may even need to go outdoors.
  2. Get distracted. Turn on your favorite TV brain drain or put your mp3 player headphones in. It’s OK to take a moment for yourself before you lose your temper.
  3. Get a drink of water if you can’t physically walk away. It will cool your body down and hopefully your emotions.
  4. Make a phone call to a friend. I’m sure you know someone else who has children who can sympathize!
  5. Just breathe. If you know any deep breathing techniques, they can be helpful. If not, just take a series of five deep breaths, filling your entire stomach with air from your nose, then pushing the air out through your mouth.

Damage Control
Many times you can see the writing on the wall just before your toddler explodes. When you see your child escalating, try some of these tips. Eventually, your child may learn to self-soothe with these same techniques.

  1. Pretend Play. Ask your child to pretend he is someone else. What would Thomas the Train or Spiderman be doing right now? What would they say?
  2. Start the Music. Singing a happy song (with hand motions!) often helps. I love to use “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” even when you’re not so happy.
  3. Physical Touch. If you have a sensory kid, she may respond to a tight hug, a back scratch, or a rocking motion.
  4. Distraction. Carry a favorite toy or snack in your purse as a distraction. Sometimes a “stress ball” or squeezable toy will help children to self-calm.

What are your favorite (and effective) ways for dealing with tantrums? 


  1. Re~direction method works, but depends on the toddler, 98% of the time, you must ignore the tantrum. Bad attention is still attention, and toddlers will do and act out the very thing that makes you un~nerved. Example. My friend’s 20 month old boy will throw his head down on floor/ground and bang his head (lightly of course) to “show” his mother he is injured. And she would rush to his side and baby him and comfort him and reason with him why he shouldnt do that. Now of course, he does this ALL the time.. LOL .. when I witnessed this behavior, I stopped my friend from running to his “aid”. I said if he sees he isn’t worrying you any, this phase will pass. Her concern was that he may try something more dangerous for attention. It hasn’t happened yet, and his head banging has almost completely stopped these days. Every child is different, and you have to do what works best for you and your child. Just be consistant in whatever you decide to do.

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