How to Run a Tantrum-Free Household

Did you ever walk into your kitchen pantry with tears in your eyes? Are you fed up with the screaming, the crying, the conniving – the pushing you to your absolute limit day-in and day-out? Kids. I know your pain.

I’m a mother of two boys, ages 3 and 6 years. They do not throw tantrums; they do not cry for things; they do not throw things (except for balls), they do not hit each other or anyone else; and above all, they listen. Wow. You’re probably wondering ... how do you do it? I have answers! 

Parenting scared the heck out of me. All I knew is that I wanted to be nothing like my mother, but that’s a story for another time. When I was pregnant with our first, I watched other parents in our neighborhood. Most of what I saw made me cringe. There had to be a better way. 

I found a book that changed my life. "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Here's a link to the book on Amazon: Parenting with Love and Logic

It was written in 1990, by a child/adult psychiatrist and former educator/principal. The book is simple, straightforward, and commonsensical. Through the power of making choices and experiencing consequences, children learn how to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own actions.


Here are my most important parenting takeaways, but I would STRONGLY suggest buying the book.

It was the best $15 I’ve ever spent!

1. Never use the word ‘NO’. This is tough one, but you’ve got to master it. The word ‘NO’ is a fighting word. It takes away their power and elicits a battle for control. You’ve got to get in the habit of answering ‘YES’, but make it on your terms. For example, “May I have a chocolate?” . . . “Yes, you may have a chocolate after dinner?”


2. Always offer choices and let them choose. As trival as the choice may be, it’s a choice nonetheless, and choices put them in control. Let them have control, but make it on your terms. I cannot stress this enough. For example, “Would you like to wear a red sweater or blue sweater?” “Would you like grapes or an orange for snack? 

3. Never use a threat you can’t keep. “You get in this car right now otherwise we’re not going?” Next thing you know – it’s 20 minutes later and off you go anyway. If you say it, you’ve got to mean it. Let them experience the consequence of their choices.

4. Always make the consequence match the crime. If your child gets a bad report in school, don’t take away the iPad. For a child to learn from their mistakes, they need to experience a consequence that is directly related to what they did wrong. For example, my eldest is in kindergarten. He got in trouble for not sitting still in class during a lesson. So we made a “sit still chart” and hung it on the refrigerator. For one week, after school, he had to stop playing at the top of each hour and practice sitting still for 15 minutes at a time, at our kitchen table, doing an activity like coloring or whatever. He brought the chart into school to show his teacher. He was proud of his accomplishment.

My household is not perfect. I don’t know all the answers. But what I do know is, my kids don’t throw tantrums. And, I owe it all to the parenting methods of Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay. It’s tried, it’s true, and it works. (Trust me).

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