Struggling with your child’s tantrums? It’s hard feeling like you don’t know what to do when they happen. Check out this guide on handling tantrums.
I felt helpless. My son had been throwing a tantrum… for over an hour. Nothing worked. I tried soothing him to no avail. Completely ignoring him didn’t do the trick, either. I seem to leave every outing carrying a wailing toddler, making my quick getaway.
These tantrums aren’t stopping just yet. (Please tell me there’s no such thing as “The Terrible Three’s.”) But they’ve been much quicker than when they first made their grand entrance.
Because nowadays, most tantrums end in about five minutes and don’t seem as terrible.
One reason is his age: he’s growing up. With that comes better communication skills and more understanding of his emotions.
He’s also learning what tantrums are. He knows we’ll be there for him but won’t bend on his demands.
Another reason his tantrums have lessened may be because of us, his parents. Having “done our time,” we’ve gotten better about handling tantrums.
I realized we’ve been relying on a process or pattern that seems to keep tantrums manageable. So I did some scribbling here, some laying out there, and came up with:
A Quick Guide to Handling Tantrums
Every child is different so this guide isn’t a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all solution. But this process has helped our toddler cope with tantrums.
Removing him from the situation—even stepping to another room—was enough to calm him down. Before, attempting to temper his frustration right then and there made him angrier.
In reading The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. (which I reviewed in this post), I also empathized first before trying to reason with him. He seemed more compliant when he knew we were still “on his side.”
And I learned that holding and reassuring him of our love shortened the duration of the tantrums. Disciplining, reasoning, and even talking him “out of it” seemed to make them worse.
The biggest lesson I learned? Kids need our unconditional love. It’s easy to shower them with attention when they’re happy and pleasant. But we withhold our love when they’re “being bad.”
They’re sorting through new emotions and don’t understand why we’ mean during tantrums. When we lose our temper, yell or get upset, they might think we love them only when they’re happy. They learn that certain emotions can seem “bad” in their parents’ eyes.
This isn’t to say that their behavior is acceptable. Wanting to eat the dog’s food or dump a bucket of water onto the floor isn’t allowed. Establish limits and stick to it.
But you’re still on their side. So while their actions and behavior may not be good, your kids always are. And they need to know and feel that.
I may just be jinxing myself again here and end up with another tantrum the minute I publish this article. But I’ve been happy with the way we’ve handled his recent outbursts. Hopefully you’ll find the guide just as useful should you have a toddler throwing a tantrum.
Get more tips about handling tantrums:
- The 4-Step Solution to Tantrums
- How to Run Errands with Kids (And Not Go Crazy)
- Do You Know What to Do when Your Child Acts Out in Public?
- Small Habits to Improve Your Parenting
- Toddler Routines: How to Structure Your Day
Do you have a process for handling tantrums tantrums? How does your child react to soothing, talking and other methods of calming down during a tantrum?