Sunday, February 16, 2014

Puppets: The magical tantrum solution!

We are all familiar with the uncanny ability of toddlers to completely tune out their mothers voice, or respond to requests with explosive melt-downs. Requests that he use the potty or go to bed are especially chaotic.  Tonight, I tried something new, and it has blown my mind.... Puppets, my friends.  Puppets.

The Elephant That Saved Bedtime

Lately, he's been lugging around an adorable stuffed elephant, which he simply calls "Elephant."  This evening, when I said "its almost time for bed honey!" He burst into tears.  My mind went into overdrive-  I was exhausted.  It was Sunday night, and I had a couch and book waiting for me.  Please... not tonight!  From the recesses of my ancestral mommy brain, a wonderful spark ignited.  I grabbed the nearest stuffed animal,  increased the pitch of my voice, and began.  Enter Mr. Elephant:

Mr. Elephant: "Oh boy! I can't wait to see your room! Can you show me?"

Child: "OK!, Come on! I have a race car bed!"

Mr. Elephant: "You DO!?!?! WOW!!! COOL!!"

Child:  "Yeah, its really cool." (walking up the stairs, with none of the typical sobbing)

Elephant: "I’ve never brushed my teeth before, have you?"

Child: "YES!, Come on! I have superhero toothbrush!” (
Child continued discussing superheros with the elephant as I surreptitiously applied toothpaste to the brush and began brushing his teeth)

Child: "Sometimes I don't like when my mom brushes my teeth." (Whoa! He's confessing to the elephant! This is solid gold.)

Mr. Elephant: "Oh, I'm sorry! Your mommy told me that brushing your teeth makes them clean, and prevents yucky cavities.  Cavities hurt!"

Child:  "Yeah, cavities are really bad!" (done brushing, rinsing, no tears so far.  Inner goddess beaming)

Mr. Elephant: "Is THAT your Potty?!? Cool! I wish I knew how to use the potty!"

Child: "I'll show you! Its easy! I can pee standing up!"  (Holy Jesus, this is insane.)

Mr. Elephant: "Wow! You're good at that! Let's wash our hands!"

Child: "Ok! you have to use soap to get rid of the germs." (LOVE how he's giving advice to the elephant)

Mr. Elephant: "Can I see your room now?!"

Child: "OK! come on! I have monster truck pajamas!"

Mr. Elephant: "Wow they are awesome! Can you put them on by yourself?!"

Child: "Yes! This is what people wear to bed." (He proceeded to explain each step to the elephant)

Mr. Elephant: "Can I sleep in your cool bed tonight?!"

Child: "Yes! You can sleep on my monster truck pillow!"

Mr. Elephant: "Oh boy!"

Daddy entered at that point to read him a book.  My son was beaming with pride at all that he accomplished, and how much he had taught his new friend.  He owned bedtime, for once in his life.  He showed someone else how the big kids do it, and he did it right.  His eyes were glowing, and he went to sleep with a smile on his face, clutching the magical elephant.

I am still in shock at the power of imagination; the joyful innocence of it all.  The magical way in which his belief in the elephant gave HIM control at bedtime, and allowed him to feel like the "Big one".  Which is all toddlers really want.  They want control and power, just like adults.  They want to be heard. 

Puppets are a useful tool for all tantrum-inspiring moments of toddlerdom, not just bedtime; Leaving the playground, meals, naptime, sharing, sibling rivalry, anytime, you name it. Puppet awesomeness example #2:  

Scene: Dinner.  Tired and hungry child refuses to come to table unless allowed to bring each and every one of his 18 monster trucks with him.  

Mood: Fear permeates the air. Parents heart rate begins to rise.  

Child: “I wanna eat dinner with my trucks! no!!!!” (as we attempt to pick him up and put him in his seat.)

The monster-jam obsessed kiddo was in a full fledged, red-faced, limb-swinging tantrum. Desperate, I grabbed the only stuffed animal in my line of sight. Enter Mr. Teddy and the magic of puppets.  Dinner thus progressed magically, wonderfully and without further incident.  Just the way I like it.


Resources and Tips for Using Puppets with your Toddlers

A great article on why puppets work, and how to use them well:  (Source:

More tips:

  1. Choose a puppet or stuffed animal that your child loves. 
  2. Change your voice enough so that its easier for the child to imagine they're talking to someone else.  
  3. Use a different personality; innocent, curious, excited, and fun.  
  4. Ask questions to make your child feel in control like "How do you do that?" "What is that?" ect. 
  5.  Talk to the puppet yourself, "Would you like a carrot too, (puppets name)?"
  6. The puppet should require that the same household rules be followed as you, and the puppet should always listen to mommy/daddy as well.
  7. If your child doesn't respond, try again! Different puppet, different voice, different setting.  
  8. Children under the age of 5 are most likely to respond to puppets. 
Want to Tweet this? Just copy and paste!: 

The Magical Tantrum Solution: Puppets! #parentingtips #toddlers #parenthood @potomacfallsmom

Thanks for reading! 
Please follow me:  You can enter your email in the upper left-hand corner of the blog, where it says "follow by email", Or follow me on Facebook

wishing joyful and pain-free days to all! 
~The PFM

Tags: Parenting, parenthood, son, toddlers, children, bedtime, potty-training, puppets, parenting tips, tantrums


  1. I love this! Pure genius! It reminds me of Larry Cohen's "Playful Parenting" (which I recommend all the time). What a great mommy instinct you have. :)

  2. Thanks so much!! I will definitely check out playful parenting:)

  3. Definitely going to try it!! Not with bedtime but eating!!! Joseph takes FOREVER!!! I'm constantly asking him to take a bite!! Hopefully, puppet awesomeness works in my house!! ;)

  4. Lol, good idea; try "Oh boy! can I have some? can I eat your dinner? If you don't eat it I will" Jimmy always scarfs down his food if we threaten to eat it. But he might just say "ok! sure, here ya go" ; )

  5. Easily Boost Your ClickBank Banner Traffic And Commissions

    Bannerizer made it easy for you to promote ClickBank products by banners, simply go to Bannerizer, and grab the banner codes for your chosen ClickBank products or use the Universal ClickBank Banner Rotator to promote all of the available ClickBank products.

  6. Great post! Thanks you so much for the share. Keep up the Excellent work, we look forward to reading more from you in the future!
    mobile app for schools in india


Thanks for commenting! :) I read all comments and look forward to hearing from you.