Tantrums can happen for many reasons. Kids having tantrums may scream, cry, become aggressive, or run away.
For younger children, tantrums happen because they have trouble with “big” feelings, like anger, anxiety, upset, etc. For older children, it is because they are still learning to self-regulate.
Knowing what to do when a tantrum happens can help to reduce future tantrums, shorten the current one, and help your child learn to manage and communicate their own emotions.
Here are 5 tips on what to do when a tantrum happens:
1. Stay calm (or pretend to!)
Take a moment for yourself if you need to. When you speak to your child, use a calm voice and act slowly. Give clear instructions if needed. If you raise your voice or get angry, children can pick up the emotion and make the situation much worse.
2. Acknowledge their strong feelings
For example, ‘It’s very upsetting when you didn’t get your turn to play the slide at the playground isn’t it?’ This allows them to understand what’s causing the frustration, and become aware of this feeling. It also shows that you are empathizing with them and that you are on their side. As humans, we all want to feel supported, children do as well!
3. Wait it out
Stay close so your child knows you’re there. Don’t try to stop their tantrum once it happens. Let them have an outlet before talking to them again.
4. Take charge when you need to
If the tantrum happens when they want to do something that you don’t want them to, change a tactic to get to the same end point. For example, if they don’t want to get out of the bath tub, pulling the plug to let the water out might be safer than trying to lift them out.
5. Be consistent and calm
If there is something you don’t give them when they have tantrums, make sure to reinforce the message. If you give it to them sometimes and sometimes you don’t, their tantrums might get worse.
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