7 secrets on how to manage tantrums

Tantrums — we’ve all been there, right? They’re that loud, tear-filled explosion that leaves both parents and children exhausted.

You’re not alone if you’ve ever felt at a loss, unsure of how to navigate these emotional outbursts.

As a parent, I’ve been there too. I’ve wrestled with the frustration, the embarrassment, and yes—the desperate desire for calm.

But here’s the thing: managing tantrums isn’t winning a battle. It’s understanding your child’s emotions and guiding them through it.

I’ve learned some secrets along the way that have helped me turn tantrums from a crisis into a learning opportunity.

Ready to gain some insight? In this article, I’m going to share 7 of these secrets with you on how to manage tantrums.

1) Understand the triggers

When it comes to managing tantrums, understanding the triggers is the first step.

It’s not as simple as it sounds, though.

Every child is unique, with different thresholds and triggers for emotional outbursts. Some might have tantrums when they’re tired or hungry, while others might react strongly to changes in routine or environment.

The key here is observation.

Take note of the circumstances surrounding each tantrum. What happened immediately before it? Was there a change in their routine? Are they possibly tired or hungry?

By recognizing these patterns, you’re arming yourself with valuable information. This knowledge helps you anticipate potential tantrum scenarios and take preventive measures.

Managing tantrums isn’t solely damage control during the storm; it involves preventing the storm from forming in the first place.

2) Embrace the concept of emotion coaching

Emotion coaching — ever heard of it?

It’s a psychological concept developed by Dr. John Gottman, and it’s a game-changer when dealing with tantrums.

In a nutshell, emotion coaching is about helping your child understand and manage their feelings. It’s a two-step process: first, you acknowledge your kid’s emotions, and then guide them toward an appropriate response.

Sounds straightforward, right?

Well, here’s how it works. Say your little one is throwing a tantrum because they can’t have ice cream before dinner. Instead of dismissing their feelings with a firm “no”, try acknowledging them: “I understand you really want ice cream now. It’s tough to wait, isn’t it?”

Then, guide them towards an appropriate response: “But we need to eat our dinner first. How about we have ice cream as dessert after?”

This approach does two things: it validates their feelings (which can often be enough to diffuse a tantrum), and it teaches them how to handle disappointment or frustration.

Emotion coaching isn’t a quick fix, but over time it can significantly reduce tantrum frequency. And the best part? It equips your child with emotional intelligence – a crucial skill for their future.

3) Are you mirroring calmness?

Have you ever noticed how your mood can influence those around you?

Well, the same concept applies when managing your child’s tantrums.

Children are incredibly perceptive, picking up on our emotions and often mirroring them. Reacting with frustration and anger to their tantrums can escalate their emotional outburst even further. Conversely, remaining calm and composed creates an environment where the child’s emotions can settle down.

This doesn’t mean suppressing your own frustration or pretending everything is fine. It’s about managing your emotions in a healthy way and modeling that behavior for your child.

Try using deep breathing techniques or counting to ten before responding to a tantrum. This small pause can help you regain control of your emotions and respond more effectively to your child’s outburst.

Your child looks up to you. If they see you handling difficult situations with composure, they’re likely to do the same.

4) Redirect, don’t reprimand

I’m sure we’ve all been there: your child is in the middle of a tantrum and it feels like nothing can calm them down.

In these moments, it’s tempting to reprimand or punish. After all, we want them to understand that their behavior is unacceptable, right?

But let’s take a moment to reconsider this approach.

Reprimanding a child during a tantrum often escalates the situation. Instead, try redirecting their attention to something else. This could be a favorite toy, a storybook, or an interesting object nearby.

In my personal experience, redirection works wonders. It shifts the child’s focus from their frustration to something more positive. It’s not ignoring the tantrum or rewarding bad behavior. It’s helping them regain control over their emotions.

We need to keep in mind that during a tantrum, children are often overwhelmed by their feelings. Redirection gives them a chance to reset and calm down. Next time your little one is on the brink of a tantrum, why not try redirection? You might be surprised at its effectiveness.

5) Choose your battles wisely

There’s a popular saying among parents: “Choose your battles wisely”. And, in my experience, this couldn’t be more true.

I remember one evening when my son wanted to wear his superhero costume to bed instead of his pajamas. I was about to insist on the pajamas when I stopped and asked myself, “Is this really worth a potential tantrum?”

The answer was clear. It wasn’t.

Choosing your battles is deciding what is truly important. Not every disagreement needs to become a showdown. Sometimes, it’s okay to let the small things slide if it means avoiding a tantrum.

This doesn’t mean letting your child do whatever they want. It’s striking a balance between setting boundaries and allowing some flexibility.

Managing tantrums involves a lot of trial and error, patience, and understanding. But by choosing our battles wisely, we can create a more peaceful environment for both ourselves and our children.

6) Equip them with coping skills

Tantrums often stem from a child’s inability to cope with frustration or disappointment.

This is where your role as a parent becomes crucial.

You have the opportunity to equip your child with the skills needed to handle these emotions.

Here are some techniques you can teach your child:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Counting to ten
  • Using words or phrases to express feelings
  • Finding a quiet place to calm down

These are not quick fixes, and they won’t eliminate tantrums overnight.

But over time, these coping skills can become second nature, helping your child manage their emotions more effectively.

7) Practice strategic ignoring

Now, you might be thinking, “Hang on, isn’t ignoring my child during a tantrum the exact opposite of what I should be doing?”

Well, here’s where things get interesting.

Strategic ignoring involves not focusing attention on the negative behavior itself, without disregarding your child’s feelings or neglecting their needs.

Remember the distraction technique we talked about earlier? This can be seen as an extension of that.

When your child throws a tantrum for no apparent reason or to seek attention, sometimes the best response is no response at all.

By not reacting to the tantrum, you’re sending a clear message that this kind of behavior won’t get them the attention they might be seeking.

However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean leaving your child in distress. The moment they calm down, offer comfort and reassurance.

Counter-intuitive? Maybe. Effective? Absolutely.

Where do we go from here?

Tantrums can be challenging, but you’re not alone in this journey. Every parent goes through this phase with their child. The key is to approach it with patience, understanding, and a toolbox of effective strategies.

As we conclude, here are a few additional points to consider in your tantrum-management journey:

  • Never compare: Every child is unique in their behavior and the way they express emotions. Avoid comparing your child’s tantrums with others.
  • Self-care: Managing tantrums can be physically and emotionally draining. Make sure to take care of yourself too. A relaxed parent is better equipped to handle a child’s tantrum.
  • Seek support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or if the tantrums seem excessively frequent or intense, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Tantrums are a part of your child’s emotional growth. They’re an opportunity for you to teach your child how to navigate their emotions – a skill that will serve them well into adulthood.

So, as you face these challenging moments, remember that you’re doing an incredible job. You’re helping your child grow and learn in the best way possible.

And that’s something truly remarkable.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

Tina Fey is a nomadic writer with a background in psychology, specializing in child development. Born and raised in diverse cultural settings, she developed a deep understanding of human behavior and the intricacies of parenting. Driven by her passion for helping others, Tina now contributes to Careful Parents, offering practical advice and insights drawn from her expertise and experiences. Through her articles, she aims to empower parents with effective strategies for nurturing healthy relationships and fostering their children's growth.

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