The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Tantrums: Part Deux

More Tantrum advice

"To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today." -Unknown (

Let's talk more about tantrums. Can there really be too much information about this topic? Here are a few things to consider from the physiological angle of behavior in children:

  • 90% of brain development occurs as early as before age 5
  • Full development of the brain occurs by age 25
  • Critical period of life/brain development occurs between age 5 and puberty
  • Last part of brain to develop is the frontal lobe – brain’s top executive functioning
  • “Neurons that fire together wire together.” (Hebb’s axiom)

Source: Psychology Today     

Remember: A child’s brain is like a house under construction.

Let’s get into Dr. Thomas Phelan’s 1-2-3 Magic program. Here are some things to consider, institute techniques and manage parents’ behaviors:

  1. Counting: 1-2-3, then take 5

  2. Kids are NOT little adults

  3. Don’t engage in a power struggle

  4. Be a united front with the other parent

  5. Your authority is non-negotiable

  6. Routine, routine, routine

  7. Time-Outs and Reverse Time-Outs

  8. No spanking (that’s a parental temper tantrum)

  9. Be the master of “quick exit”

  10. Use tantrums/behavioral outbursts as teachable moments

These tenets can be found in Dr. Phelan’s books and on his website. We at Meghan L. Reitz & Assoc. use this program consistently with our young clients and their families. 

Be sure to be a role model, live your own life, let your children love you and work on your relationship with your significant other. Being an effective parent means being a healthy adult. We cannot be successful in navigating a child’s emotions and behaviors if we do not take care of ourselves.

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