I like words that start with Tan. You have Tanzania (great place, you must go) tantalising (anyone else thinking Calamari, no? just me?) and Tantric (nod, nod, wink, wink). You have tangled (a web of lies, crossed wires or the best Disney film to date) tankard (cheers friendly old man, does yours have a beard? mine does) and Tannice (a very nice lady who helped me out when I was getting started on Twitter I’ll have you know).

And then you have ‘tantrum’.

Which sounds like ‘humdrum’ when it rolls off the tongue.

But feels more like listening to someone playing bagpipes (badly) when you have an ear infection.

Now there are very much scales of a tantrum and I can talk you through them, don’t worry – I’m not busy.

The ‘not really a tantrum, tantrum’.

They can’t be bothered, you can’t be bothered, this tantrum doesn’t really count TBH. You committed a minor misdemeanour which might normally really piss them off but today their heart’s not really in it.

Example: You followed through with a threat such as ‘if you don’t stop hitting your sister over the head with that toilet brush then NO chocolate biscuit for you (totally hypothetical example). They drop to the floor, say something like ‘NOOOOOOO’ or ‘mumMEEEE’ or ‘I want BiKIT NOWWW’ or ‘now that we’re married I don’t think you can tell me what to do anymore’.

And they don’t really bother with any tears/sobbing/screaming/special effects/smoke machines and they just potter off to do something else. They basically behave like the boss at the office on a dress down Friday. He’s turned up with a hangover and even though he normally cracks the whip today he’s all like ‘TFI Friday guys’ and ‘let’s all go to the pub for lunch and knock off early’. And you find him super confusing because just yesterday he was shouting at you for a late report. Back away from him slowly and carefully. God I hate that guy. Anyway – back to the child, the tantrum never escalates, they are probably not hungry or can’t be bothered or perhaps they listen to their parents (I’ve heard that does actually happen sometimes). But either way, this is not an emergency, it is a pleasant surprise. Give me the ‘not really a tantrum, tantrum’ any day. I quite enjoy it.

The ‘I’m going to have a mini tantrum about everything, all day, tantrum’.

This one is an endurance game. It’s like running a marathon – it’s all about mental stamina. The good news is all the tantrums individually are pretty pathetic. There will be a lot of dropping to the floor and getting back up again. Do it with them and think of how toned your thighs are getting. A personal recommendation is singing ‘drop it like it’s hot, drop it like it’s hot’ in your head whilst you do it. It inexplicably makes the day more cheery.

WARNING: Do NOT continue with ‘got the rolly on my arm and I’m pouring Chandon, And I roll the best weed cause I got it going on’ when opening the door to the postman. You will look like slightly strange middle class mother who thinks they are in music video whilst child is tantrum-ming on the floor behind her.

I’m not sure if I need to give you an example of the ‘I’m going to have a mini tantrum about everything, all day, tantrum’ because I think everyone has experienced some version of it. For kids it’s highly likely they have a cold/virus/attitude problem and they cry because they want THAT toy – then they throw it down because actually they want that other one – then they don’t like that one either – then they also don’t like your face etc etc. For me it’s when I’m hungover and an advert about dog food makes me cry, and then the fact that there is no milk makes me cry, and then the general state of the world makes me cry and then the fact that my kid is having a mini tantrum about everything, all day, makes me cry.

I don’t enjoy this type of tantrum. For any of us. It’s very wearing. Fuel yourself through these days via any (legal) means necessary. For some it’s food, for some it’s caffeine, for some it’s permission to sing inappropriate songs in their head/to their postman. Do whatever you gotta do lady, just do it. (Gonna do it, gonna do it, Gonna do it, do it, do it. (Ice Cube Circa ’99) … it happened again- apols – my life is like an embarrassing stage show of inappropriate 90’s songs).

The ‘this could be a full scale jobby but distraction is my best friend tantrum’.

This is not as wearing as above tantrum but does involve a certain amount of effort and inspiration on the part of the parent. TBH I quite like the challenge. Oh so you think the world is ending because we’re run out of chocolate digestives do you? Well have you seen this super smashing great star jump I can do? Not impressed? What about this roly poly with olympic gymnastic style start and ending in a downward dog and a cheeky little fart (for entertainment purposes only, obv). Still can’t cartwheel unfortunately and please don’t bring it up because it brings up all sorts of childhood trauma about how I was dumped in primary school for someone who could. But if I could then I would totally insert a cartwheel here. And if you can then go for it (you are such a show off). But basically when the bottom lip starts- a-trembling (not ME, the child, I AM OVER the cartwheel thing OK??) and the child starts – a-screaming then you should get – a- distracting (I have no idea why I’ve just come over all Italian – scusa bella).

WARNING: this method only works for some children. And if you are in the right frame of mind. If you are not in the mood to be inventive/interpretive with your distraction methods this could evolve into the FULL SHEBANG (see below). Showing the child videos of you doing said roly poly on your mobile phone when you can’t be bothered to do it does not work. Trust me, I’ve tried. And like I said it only works for some children.

My second child can often be distracted, and pretty easily –


Me: ‘look child, there is a…. a…. errr… big… errrr… tree. Wow, what a lovely tree’.

Him: ‘Wow, a tree. I was going to have a massive meltdown about putting my shoes on but now you have pointed out that lovely tree and I haven’t seen a tree in at least 6 minutes. Let’s bury the hatchet and concentrate on admiring that tree shall we?’

Whereas my first child was NEVER distracted from anything, ever. Stubborn as a bloody mule. Must have got it from her, errr, Dad or maybe, errr, her fellow 2 year old chums. She helped me develop my expert skills in identifying and managing tantrums because she used to have the ‘FULL SHEBANG’ daily for about 8 years. Oh hold on, that can’t be right, she’s only 6 years old. Well, it felt like 8 years ok? But in reality it can only have been 2. Anyway I shall always be grateful/resentful to/of her for those informative 2 years of dealing with:


If you know exactly what I’m talking about you might want to stop reading here. I don’t want to drag up any of your traumatic past even if you are a cartwheeling show off. THE FULL SHEBANG involves a violent assault on all you senses as well a personal assault on your character due to judgey onlookers (we’ll leave them for another day, but in case you’re reading judgey onlookers can I speak on behalf of humanity when I say WE HATE YOU, go judge someone else who has actually done something wrong like an evil dictator or something, not an overtired, underpaid parent who is more than likely singing a 90’s song in her head* -‘I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW, AHHHH’ (Kelis Circa ’99)

*it may well be that I am actually the only parent who does this, I’m not sure, I’ve never asked.

Anyway, for THE FULL SHEBANG it is advisable that you assume the brace position and hold something made of rubber to avoid the lightening strikes. If you own a shield (bit weird) now is the time to deploy it. There will be hysteria (think teenage girls when Take That broke up) that will be punctuated by screams (think teenage girls on a roller coaster) and there will be abuse to inanimate objects (think teenage girls slamming doors). It’s just occurred to me that my 2 year old may in fact have been a 13 year old girl – I’ll look into it…

The main thing is: DON’T panic, they can sense it. Make yourself very clear, limit your vocabulary – totally strip it down to a few words or maybe just actions. If you’re feeling brave you could do that humming method that Crocodile Dundee uses to tame that buffalo thing in the film (previous experience suggests this doesn’t actually work with children). The other thing to remember is that your child is not alone in being able to administer the loudest, most inconvenient, most infuriating tantrum. It is ok if this makes you well up with tears, think ‘I’ve created a monster’ or for it to make you feel angry.

The problem is that not all children do all of the tantrum types. So well meaning parents of the ‘this could be a full scale jobby but distraction is my best friend tantrum’ will suggest distraction and the parents of the ‘I’m going to have a mini tantrum about everything, all day, tantrum’ will suggest some sort of endurance training and the parents of THE FULL SHEBANG will suggest hiding and/or riot training.

I suggest 90’s songs and white wine but that’s just me.

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1 Comment

  1. Your description of the Full Shebang actually made me feel a bit scared for you. Normally if I” dealing with something this scale I just sit on the floor, batten down the hatches and wait for it to blow over. But I reckon the Mick Dundee humming method might be worth a go.

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