If your kid’s temper tantrums are out of control, it might be time to double-check your own reactions to stress. According to a study in Development and Psychopathology, people who lose their temper easily are more likely to have toddlers who do the same. Parents who got angry quickly or overreacted when children tested appropriate limits had kids who frequently misbehaved and had more temper tantrums than was usual for their age. Plus, toddlers who just can’t control themselves are far more likely to continue to act out as they get older.
“As a parent of a preschooler myself, I sometimes give myself a little ‘time out’ to calm down before responding to my child. When parents are able to keep their cool and find fun and positive activities to share with their children, the ‘terrible twos’ start to seem a whole lot less terrible,” says researcher Shannon Lipscomb.
Do it today: Lead by example! When you feel your frustration rising (say, after your child decides to pelt the wall with peas), pause, take a few deep breaths and shake out your hands before you react.