If your child is like mine, when things don’t go their way,  they may haul off and throw a king-size “temper tantrum.”  When this happens there are a few things that you should remember that will help de-escalate the situation quicker when your child is throwing a tantrum.


When your child is throwing a tantrum:

1.  Remain calm and listen

When you remain calm and listen to your child, you are more likely to find out the “real” reason for the temper tantrum.  Often the trigger that set off the temper tantrum is not the real reason for the emotions your child is feeling.  Maybe they are hungry, tired, or just frustrated from something that happened to them at school or daycare.  Listen to what they are saying, not the way they are saying it. Learn how to ask questions to learn more about what’s going on.

2.  Remove any onlookers if you can

Sometimes even well-meaning people can make things worse when your child is throwing a tantrum.  Siblings, relatives, or even friends can often say things that will escalate the child’s temper tantrum and cause the tantrum to last longer and possibly become more violent.  Try to remove everyone but you and the child from the room.  If that is not possible, try to remove the child having the temper tantrum from their audience.  Ask them if they want to go outside, maybe go for a walk, or go get a snack.  It us important that you find a way to be alone with your child in order to remove all distractions and focus on them.

3.  Don’t make threats or give ultimatums

When a child is in the middle of throwing a tantrum, the part of their brain that responds to reasoning is completely shut off.  In other words, they can’t hear anything you say.  Making threats or telling the child that some punishment will happen if they don’t stop will do no good.  Wait for the tantrum to run its course, then discuss consequences later when the child is calm and can listen.

4.  Validate your child’s feelings

Telling your child that you know how they feel and letting them know you understand why they are upset will go a long way in helping to de-escalate the temper tantrum.  After your child is calm, you can then talk to them about more appropriate ways to handle their emotions. (A great way is to role-play)  But they do need to hear, that it is “normal” to get mad.

Read more in this series on parenting techniques.

Great tips for when my child is throwing a temper tantrum!


How constant moving through foster homes can really hurt a child.

Being 7 at the time, my foster son was very conscious of his life when he first came to live in our home. He had been in another foster home, where he had spent a full year. One of his first comments, once I introduced him to his very own bedroom was: “It smells here…” In reality, it didn’t. I explained, “I know it feels like it smells, but actually, it simply smells different.

When I first entered the USA, everything was new to me. Not only the language sounded like nonsense, but the smell of the air was nothing familiar either. I remember when I was at the airport, with my friends, tired as we were, we sat on the floor. A cleaning lady approached and began talking to us. We didn’t understand what she was saying — I think, maybe, we were not supposed to sit there.  We didn’t speak her language. We were travelers.  It was scary when someone would talk to me and I couldn’t understand.

At another time, I remember being confused, also at the airport. After asking the flight attendant a question, she got really offended at me. I think I must have expressed myself the wrong way. I was an exchange student, missing home. I was just afraid I was going to miss my flight.

For a foster child, the experience of a new foster home is very similar to mine. The child is a foreigner in the new home.

A therapist, making the case to defend permanency for a child who had already spent years in foster care, stated: “With every move, a child goes through the same shock as someone does when moving to a new country.


My son needed plenty of time to adjust to us. A world had been ripped from him and a completely new one was given him, all at the same time, without having any say.

If an adult can panic at the thought of being dropped off in a strange land… Imagine a child, who has to face all new things? How many traditions did he have to learn? How many different rules did she have to learn at the several schools she has had to attend? How many times did they feel alone and lost and needed someone to explain the directions?

These are heavy experiences!

A child needs stability, permanency. Her brain needs time to absorb and adjust. His heart needs a break…

Many foreigners fall into depression because of the overload of new information they must accept. And we are talking about adults, who have chosen to move from their home country into a new one. But a foster kid did not ask for the move. Still, we require full acceptance from them. So, we must give them space and time once they arrive… And permanency.

Understanding from us to them.




A never-letting-go attitude.

You know, when that flight attended got mad at me, what helped was when a kind soul stopped by and helped us understand each other. It is hard to forget the relief that I felt when her compassionate eyes met mine at a time when I was a tiny person in a very wide world.

Our little ones are travelers, worn down travelers, foreigners in need of those compassionate eyes.
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GloriaRGloria R. is a mother of two birth children, and fostering to adopt an older child. She is  a licensed therapeutic foster parent with her husband. She continues to engage in research on traumatized children, foster care and adoption and hope to be a voice for kids, who often fall in between the cracks of society. She also loves writing and welcoming new readers to her blog, www.onemorewithus.com.


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