Inappropriate Behavior Demands Consequences

The most frequently asked question when I speak to MOPS groups (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) is worth answering here. “My kids throw temper tantrums. Are they red, yellow, green or blue?”

YES! is my answer. There are similar behaviors across all the temperaments and they all have off days.

Remember, reds easily anger and are RIGHT. Yellows are the MOST dramatic in the moment. Blues feel wrongly persecuted, and greens have a strong will.


As brilliant as I am identifying kids and their temperaments, there is no pat answer to many situations.

Now, having stated my disclaimer, let’s talk.

One-to-three-year-olds are discovering their power. Throw a fit and get attention.

My easy way to discover if the fit is truly anger or genuine pain is simple. Give them what they want and see if the crying quits. This works especially well if you are with your mother-in-law (or at church) to avoid any unpleasant scenes.

However, seriously, I suggest you resolve the temper tantrums as soon as they begin in the safety of your own home. Inappropriate behavior demands consequences, no matter what the age of the child.

Our firstborn was a sweet green. She never had a tantrum. I, naturally, thought this was because I was such a wonderful mom. Sixteen months later her brother arrived, and all hell broke loose.

At twenty months, and smart as a whip, he decided to let me know who was boss. His first tantrum was on our kitchen floor and he threw a piece of fruit at my face, screaming at the top of his lungs because he preferred a cookie. Boy, was he loud.

Completely stunned for 30 seconds, I froze, and then my red surfaced. As he was screaming at the top of his lungs, I carefully filled a tall glass of water and poured it over his head and entire body (and my kitchen floor). He was startled and quiet at first, and then the crying accelerated. His anger had new fuel. This only lasted for seconds, as he saw me filling another glass with water. I set in on the counter and left the kitchen.

Five minutes later, my little boy hobbled, dripping wet to my room, crying softly, saying, “Wet mama’.”

It broke my heart; I hugged him tightly, telling him how much I loved him. I also said, “When mama says NO you obey.”  I barely kept from laughing as he just kept mumbling “Wet, mama,” “Wet, mama,” as I changed him and cleaned up the kitchen.

There was only one more tantrum a few months later and the water worked again.

I carried a thermos full of water with me, wherever we went, for the next year, and he knew it.

Mom 1- Child 0.

Question: Tell us your best tantrum story! I love to read your comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Fantastic!

  • Christina

    I am crying laughing.

  • mark

    I’m still scarred, but whenever I see a glass of water I stop kicking and screaming.

  • Lauren Merchian

    I am doing this with my Red daughter now thanks to you, not the whole glass, for her all it takes it a spritz from a water bottle and she breaks down in tears over the fact that her now dry shirt is wet, and to her, no one can bring calm! Since she and I are Red, and I could tell from very early, I made it a point to not let her win any battle in the very beginning. But, she fast outgrew this. By three she had her way, and as of a few weeks ago my husband and I were on knifes edge. After the spritzing starting, our family began to have a calm. Now if I could only get my blue/green son to stop torturing her by taking control and manipulating things beyond her control. She almost always ends up in tears. *sigh* I think we might be able to go more than a week with out a meltdown! lol

    • Lauren, congratulations- you are on the right track! One day at a time. Your son should not be allowed to ‘torture’ your daughter. You don’t say how old he is, but there IS a consequence that will get his attention and make him not want to experience it again. Just calmly try different consequences with him when he acts inappropriately, and you WILL discover the one that jolts him into realizing you mean business. Do it in love, no yelling or even raising your voice. Let him know you are the parent, and he must obey your rules. I’ll be praying for you guys! God bless!