Understanding Children’s Tantrums

Rathika SubramanianChildcare, Parenting

KLA Schools of PLainfield

Try these tips to help your child before, during, and after a tantrum. Above all, remain calm and compassionate. Ensure your child knows you love them and are there to keep them safe.

  • Understand your child’s tantrum triggers. For example, avoid taking them on errands close to mealtimes when they may be hungry and cranky.
  • Praise positive behavior. If you notice your child is doing something positive like sharing a toy with a sibling or saying please, reinforce this behavior with praise.
  • Give your child a small amount of control. Often, tantrums arise because a child wants to do something on their own, or make their own decision. Try letting your child make independent decisions in a controlled environment. For example, you can ask them to choose between three movies for family movie night, or let them pick where they want to go on a neighborhood walk.
  • Try distraction. Often, a tantrum can be avoided by diverting your child’s attention at the right moment or moving them to a different location.
  • Stay calm during a tantrum. If your child is having a tantrum, resist the urge to give in and inadvertently reinforce the behavior. Instead, try to ignore it or move your child to a different area. Some parents also use a time-out strategy, with older children being told they can return when they are calm. This gives the child a sense of control over the situation and their emotions.
  • Discuss your child’s feelings. After a tantrum has passed, give your child a hug and have an empathetic, two-way conversation about the experience with them. This can help you both understand what happened and why, and figure out what to do next time.
  • Teach your child coping strategies. When your child is calm, help them practice some self-soothing behaviors for the next time they feel angry or anxious, such as singing their favorite song, leaving the room, or taking three deep breaths.

Tantrums usually stop in time, as a child grows and builds their cooperation, communication, and emotional regulation skills. These tips can help you understand your child’s tantrums, and help them to get through them.