Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton’s go-to distraction hacks

How do you divert your little one away from an all-kicking, all-screaming tantrum?


If there’s one word synonymous with toddlers – it’s tantrums ? ?


(Maybe we should change that to all young children and tantrums, if we’re gonna be accurate.)

And there’s no dicier moment in everyday parenting than stopping a wobbly in its tracks before the real tears begin, right?

Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to tame the tantrum as it rears its ugly head, but generally, distracting them from the thing that’s upsetting/angering them is a pretty good tactic.

That’s why we wanted to open up a bit of a discussion about YOUR top distraction hacks, so we can all compare notes.

And we thought we’d kick things off by revealing what celeb mums Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby told us they do to halt meltdown mode, during our recent chats:

“We have our lunchtime quiz,” says Holly of her out-in-public distraction technique. “[Husband] Dan’s a brilliant quizmaster, and we gather around the table and everyone answers questions.

“When we’re on holiday, when you’re eating later, or there are other kids about – that’s when I’d use an iPad in those kind of situations, to relax that.

“Quizzes are probably my most used distraction technique if I’m being honest.”

Holly’s kids are 8 and 6 – along with 2-year-old Chester – so we reckon this sounds like a fun way to distract older little ones ?

Meanwhile Fearne’s children – who are 4 and 2 – are a bit too young for quizzes, so she uses something else to capture their attention.

“If I need them to eat their dinner or if everyone’s in a bit of a bad mood, music’s just what we keep coming back to as a family.

“We’ve got a little music area in our house where my husband [musician Jesse Wood] keeps his annoying amount of guitars, and that’s where we’ll pick up a tambourine or one of the guitars and they wanna play along – and that really calms everyone.”

However, when it comes to things getting a bit ??? while flying, Fearne’s more than happy to employ the same distraction method many of us will know all too well: the iPad.

“iPad! iPad!” she shouts. “I’m going for all the bad habits on the plane.

“Flying on a plane with kids is the absolutely pits, it’s awful, I hate it, so I will do anything – I will buy all the bad snacks, I will buy whatever toy/magazine they want in WHSmith, I will have the iPad, the headphones with the dual plug in, go for it. Anything to make it easier. Luckily, it doesn’t happen very often.

“We even wrapped presents for Rex to open on a 12-hour plane to Rio De Janeiro – so, we thought, one when we take off, one midway, and one when we land – they’re only tiny things – but they’d all been opened before we’d even taken off.

“We were absolutely up s*** creek. We just didn’t know what to do. I’m not doing long haul again until they’re at least 15.” 

? ? ?

Share your stories

How do tantrums get tamed in your house?

Is there a song or TV show that’ll calm them down before one even begins – or perhaps you like the ‘roll on the floor and copy their every move’ tactic while it’s in full swing?

Whatever the case, we’d love to hear from you. Share your stories in the comments below or over on Facebook

Images: Instagram/Holly Willoughby

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