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Today’s Hint: The Magic “Bag” of Treasures for Curtailing Tantrums

I’m a bit of a pack rat. So, for the last year or so, anytime my 2-year-old daughter has received little items she’s not quite ready to play with unsupervised (think little Play-Doh containers, stickers and toy cars from birthday party goodie bags), I haven’t thrown them away.

Instead, I’ve been stashing the goodies away in a pitcher in our kitchen, along with other trinkets from around our house I’m saving for my daughter rather than getting rid of (for example, plastic jewelry from my bachelorette party and an old harmonica). Initially, I was storing the items in the pitcher out of sight until my toddler was older.

However, recently, I hit on a strategy for utilizing the goodies that is today’s hint: Whenever my daughter is on the verge of throwing a tantrum because she wants something she can’t have (think her pacifier when naptime is over), I whip out the pitcher, saying it’s time for “mommy’s magic pitcher.”

IMG_4410Then, I either dump the contents out and let my daughter play with them as she wishes, or I bring the items out a few at a time. Generally, the otherwise forbidden toys (treasures, in my daughter’s eyes) are met with lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from my little one, or at least a bit of excitement. She’ll typically play with them for a good 10 minutes or so, and another tantrum is averted.

To be sure, this trick isn’t anything revolutionary. It’s a variation of the general notion of dealing with a young child’s anger using some sort of redirection or distraction, as in “I’m sorry that you can’t have your pacifier. I know that makes you mad, but you can have these other items,” (a technique not all parenting experts agree with because it may reward bad behavior, but one I have found works, at least for now).

It’s also a twist on the notion of toy rotation, and an at-home version of the common advice to have a bag of tricks (i.e. lots of new toys from the dollar store) to entertain young kids during travel. It’s also a great easy toddler activity idea even if your little one isn’t about to throw a fit.

Like the sound of this strategy? You don’t necessarily need a pitcher to do it. Any old bag or container will work just as well. The only requirement is that it’s a container where you can store little special trinkets and toys you’ll only bring out once in a while. Just be sure to supervise your child while he or she is playing with the special items if they’re not quite age appropriate yet.

What do you do with all the little trinkets your child receives? What are your tricks for curtailing tantrums? Share your thoughts below.

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