“The tantrum stopped! It worked!” Not so fast…


Anything that stops a tantrum in its tracks will likely make that tantrum occur MORE in the future. 


I have had parents tell me “see, that worked!” when they do this.  Interestingly, they say this as they are paying me to be in their living room helping them with their kids.  The irony is usually not obvious.  I usually stand back and say, “we need to talk about what you mean when you say, ‘It worked’ so we can move forward on this.”

When you are thinking about strategies that work, I mean really work, you need to look at behavior over time.  If it really works, it means the behavior you are trying to stop is actually occurring less and less over time.  NOT in the moment.  

If you continue to spank your kid for the same reason…spanking is NOT working.  If you continue to send your kid to time out for the same reason, time out is NOT working.  Also, if your kid isn’t brushing his teeth more, then your sticker chart is NOT working. 

I will say, if you do stop a behavior in its tracks, you now know why the tantrum was happening.  You paid attention to her and she stopped crying? (she wanted your attention).  You turned the TV on and he stopped whining (he wanted the TV on).  You sent her to time out when she was laying on the ground in front of the bathtub and she stopped, got up and went to timeout? (chances are…she wanted to avoid the bathtub). 

Now that you know, what are you gonna do?  Think about why, and get back to me…

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