Stop Temper Tantrums with Gentle Restraint

When it comes to restraining a child, there are good restraints and there are bad restraints. Obviously, tying a child to a chair is a bad restraint, but when a child is riding in a car, a car seat is a good restraint. The method you are about to learn involves a good and harmless restraint. Good because it will put an end to tantrums, which is not only good for you, but for the child. The restraint in this method usually only lasts for less than 15 seconds and you will probably only have to do it once or twice, then the tantrums will stop. Here is the method:


You must be consistent with this and do it as soon as you see a tantrum begin. No matter where you are, get on your knees on the floor, then place the child on your lap with his back facing you.

Wrap one of your arms around your child's arms, wrap your other arm around his legs. Be gentle, the intention is not to hurt the child, but simply to keep him from flailing his arms and legs.

Next, put your mouth next to the child's ear and speak in a soft voice. The child will have to pipe down some in order to hear you. Say something like, "When we throw our arms and legs around, we can hurt ourselves and other people, so I am going to hold you here until you are still because I don't want anyone to get hurt." The child will most likely be still and silent before you finish the statement.

Then let the child go. If the tantrum starts again, do the same thing all over again. Do this each time a tantrum begins.

After you do this once or twice, all you should have to do is start walking towards the child when a tantrum is about to begin, and the child will stop the tantrum himself. At that point you will know that the battle against tantrums has been won.

By Amuck from Fairview Heights, IL

April 14, 20090 found this helpful

I usually don't post to disagree with anyone, but feel that I should give a little warning here. My child has tourettes syndrome. She was in a lot of pain with a chronic ear ache as a small child which complicated matters. Her kindergarten teacher tried this method of restraint when my daughter began bumping her head against a door. My daughter became terrified and clawed the teacher up pretty badly. We took her out of public school after this incident. (At the time she had not been diagnosed with tourettes.) There are bratty kids and kids who are suffering, best to know the difference before you try to deal with a situation.

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Anonymous Flag
April 14, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with goldberie. Do not use this method for children who do head-banging, that is different from children who throw temper tantrums. Also, some children suddenly begin having tantrums when a traumatic event occurs, such as the death of a loved one or when the parents divorce. Of course in those cases the parents should help their children find better ways to deal with grief and separation, but in such cases, the tantrums can also be stopped, if the parent desires.

If I was goldberie I would be angry at the teacher and the school. Most day care and schools have rules that do not allow a teacher or care giver to restrain a child, so this incident should not have taken place to begin with. You should never do this method on any child but your own and never allow anyone else to restrain your child. Usually only the parent knows if this is the proper method to use on their child. Also, if you try to restrain the child in any other way than is described above (for example, with the child facing you), the child will be able to kick, bite or scratch you. When you approach the child, before you have a chance to turn their back to you is the time you should watch out for the child attempting to attack you, so do that with caution. If your child is likely to attack you, you should turn the child's back to you before you get on your knees.

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Anonymous Flag
April 14, 20090 found this helpful

Wow! I agree that no one other than a parent has the right to try this method!

I also have to say that if it is a child having a simple temper tantrum, and who has no underlying emotional or physical problems, that this advice is kind of kooky and feeds in to a child learning how to be manipulative to see just how far an adult or person in charge will go to appease them :-( What happened to good old fashioned common sense of explaining to a child why tantrums are unacceptable behavior and that there are consequences to choices?

By the time I was three years old I knew and understood 'by the look on my parents, grandparents, etc face' that I was being a brat and that it was simply disrespectful to do anything less than behave myself.

I know we all want children to be given equal human rights and protection but do we really think a future boss, police or others in authority are going to give 'time outs' like this? Children 'know' and what we teach them as children follow them in to adulthood.

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Anonymous Flag
April 14, 20090 found this helpful

This method isn't for parents whose child throws an occasional tantrum, this is for parents who are at their witts end because they have tried all the other alternatives and nothing works, and the child is throwing several each day making the parent feel like they have no control over the situation. Reasoning rarely works for such children.

This method is not a 'time out'. Some kids want to be in control. During a tantrum it looks like the child is out of control, but in actuality, most of the time they are trying to gain control. The message that this method delivers to the child is that the parent is in control and will no longer allow tantrums. The reason this method works is because no child wants to be restrained, even for a few seconds.

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April 14, 20090 found this helpful

I don't see the problem with Amuck's origianl post. It doesn't seem out of line to me for a person in care of a child to hold the child this way when there is a tantrum in progress. Nowhere did she (or he?) say to cause pain or use brute force. The way I read it, the adult was trying to keep the child from hurting him/herself. My childhood friend used to bang her head on CONCRETE until she knocked herslef out! I don't think holding her this way would have hurt nearly as much! I was holding my friends little girl while she was bucking and screaming and when I whispered in her ear she DID stop to listen and what I said was, "Do you need to go to time out?" She immediatly stopped and we went on our way. I don't think Amuck was speaking for children who have a problem like the child with tourettes but rather the normal (?) tantrum that most of us have run into at least once with each of our childrfen.

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Anonymous Flag
April 14, 20090 found this helpful

Amen, Glenn'sMom. I worked at the Child Development Center on a military base until I retired a few years ago. They required training classes one day a week. One instructor told the class about the tantrum thing, and she immediately told us we weren't allowed to use it at the center because we weren't allowed to restrain a child. She said she told us about the method so if a parent asked our advice on how to handle temper tantrums, we would be able to give them a good solution to the problem.

Someone asked the instructor why none of us had ever heard of this. The instructor said she learned about it in the early 80's but because it is so controversial (because it involves restraint), it isn't widely publicized. She said there are people who believe a child should never be restrained, no matter what the circumstances, but she said these same people don't realize they are restraining their child when they hold their hand to cross the street or carry them across a parking lot instead of turning them loose and hoping they don't get hit by a car and hoping they end up inside the store.

Just wanted to let you know this is not a new technique, it has been around for at least a quarter of a century.

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December 22, 20100 found this helpful

I am a parent that does not believe that spanking should be used as a punishment unless absolutely pushed to the limit. I spanked my daughter one time ever. My father has over 30 years of experience working with kids and his suggestion, when my daughter was 3 and throwing a monster of a tantrum (it was her first one), he said to put her in my bed, hug her, holding her arms in and put one leg over her legs to keep her from flailing. I did it and it took about 15 minutes of her screaming, trying to get away, crying, sweating and such and then she stopped and fell asleep. I left her there to nap and when she woke up, we talked about it. It never happened again. I now have a 5 year old step-daughter and just tried the same thing today. No talking while it is happening, because they have to figure out on their own that you are the adult and they are the child and the child is not in control. I hope it worked. Seems severe but it is not spanking and she is not getting hurt.

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May 6, 20120 found this helpful

I am the mom of a 7 year old daughter who is diagnosed with bipolar and asperger's syndrome. I have only tried the holding method a few times, and absolutely as a last resort. We have tried EVERYTHING else. I have had broken bones, cuts, scrapes, bites punches, and numerous bruises from my daughter. She goes into horrible rages. Of course after, she feels awful and doesn't remember most of it. But I have had chairs thrown at me, I have been hit with a metal bat, and smashed in the head with a phone.

My daughter also frequently says she will cut herself or others with a sharp knife. These are so scary for everyone, and I have come to realize that the only way I can guarantee she and my family is safe is to hold her. This was recommended by her doctor, and I urge everyone who is considering using this method to talk to your doctor first.

They can tell you if you should be using it, and more importantly, can show you the safest way to do this for everyone involved. Best of luck everyone.

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