• Child Development


How To Deal With Temper Tantrums

Parenting is an incredible journey, but it does come with its fair share of challenges, and one of the most common ones is dealing with toddler temper tantrums. These sudden emotional outbursts can catch us off guard and may be triggered by a variety of reasons. However, it's crucial to remember that beneath the surface of these tantrums lies a simple truth: our children are not defined by these moments. Instead, they are trying to communicate unmet needs in the best way they know how.

In this article, we'll explore some practical and effective tips to help calm your child and restore your own peace of mind when your little one transforms into a whirlwind of emotions. We'll also emphasize the importance of not shaming our children but rather seeing the best in them, recognizing that their tantrums are a way of expressing those unmet needs that we, as parents, can help fulfill.

1 – Get on Their Level

Nobody enjoys being talked down to, and that includes our children. Since toddlers are at a lower height, it's crucial for us to physically lower ourselves to their level if we want to avoid talking down to them.

Speaking to your toddler at eye level isn't just beneficial during tantrums; it should be our preferred way of communicating with them at all times.

If you find that your little one is completely ignoring your requests, resist the urge to repeat yourself. Repeating yourself will only lead to increased frustration and anger. Instead, pause and either crouch down to their level or lift them up to yours, then calmly and directly address them.

Maintaining eye contact ensures that they have genuinely heard you and also encourages them to pay attention. This approach is remarkably effective. Moreover, speaking to anyone in this manner is a sign of respect. It communicates that they are important and deserve your undivided attention, which can have a significant positive impact.

2 – Stay by their side

Children crave comfort and reassurance when they're in the midst of a tantrum, and your presence can make a significant difference, even when they're feeling overwhelmed. Offering them a firm and supportive hug or simply sitting by their side if they do not want to be touched can work wonders. Show them you are not afraid of their big feelings and you love them unconditionally regardless of what they feel.

Consider it akin to the soothing effect of weighted blankets, which help alleviate nighttime anxiety, or the security provided by swaddling a baby. Embracing your toddler with a close, steady, and grounding hug serves as a powerful pattern disruptor. It's a far more effective strategy than walking away, shouting, or resorting to punishments when faced with their tantrums.

I encourage you to give it a try the next time your toddler experiences a meltdown. Your presence, as oppossed to leaving them alone, might just be the key to helping them find their calm amidst the storm.

3 – Lower Your Voice

When dealing with a child in the midst of a tantrum, it's essential to remember that resorting to screaming or raising your own voice is generally ineffective. This principle extends to various human interactions involving conflict. When conversing with an angry individual, escalating the situation by raising your voice tends to yield unproductive results.

In contrast, adopting a composed, confident, and firm tone – one that remains calm even in the face of turmoil – is the optimal approach when communicating with your distressed toddler. In essence, you become your child's anchor of calm, steadfastly maintaining composure while they navigate their emotional storm. This approach not only helps defuse the immediate situation but also teaches your child valuable emotional regulation skills, fostering a healthier environment for both parent and child.

4 – Control Your Own Anger

This is where things can become challenging because when our toddler isn't attentive, responds with defiance, or throws a tantrum, it's quite common for our own emotions to escalate.

When our emotions are in charge, we are more prone to saying unhelpful things, exacerbating the situation, or expressing thoughts we don't truly mean and will later regret. So, when your child is misbehaving, it's essential to pause, take a breath, and refrain from speaking or making parenting decisions impulsively. Always keep in mind that you are the adult, and our responsibility is to soothe our child who may be feeling overwhelmed.

5 – Get Outta There!

If you find yourself in a public setting, try to exit as swiftly as possible. This not only benefits the innocent bystanders and demonstrates good manners but also serves to disrupt your childs outburst by changing the environment.

Maintain your composure during this moment and use it as an opportunity to breathe and count, rather than resorting to shouting, complaining, or forcefully pulling your child along.

I understand that this can be easier said than done, but setting an example of composed behavior is incredibly crucial!

6 – Hear Them to Understand

Always keep in mind that tantrums serve as a means of communication for children. They are a way for your child to express their unmet needs. If tantrums become the primary method for your child to get their point across or if they frequently occur at home, it's an indicator that your child hasn't yet acquired more suitable ways to convey their emotions. This pattern is unlikely to naturally diminish as they grow older. However, when tantrums or expressions of anger do occur, it's essential to make an effort to identify the underlying cause and assist them in addressing it with empathy. Remember, tantrums are a call for help, and it's our role to help fill their emotional cup to reduce these outbursts.

7 – Keep Your Language Positive

While it might be tempting to let your frustration out and speak your mind openly, try your utmost to exercise restraint. Repeatedly labeling your son as a "bad boy" won't resolve the issue. Our words possess significant influence, and consistently referring to your son as "bad" is, in fact, affirming that he is inherently bad—an outcome you likely don't wish to achieve.

Always strive to articulate what you aspire to see in your children, your life, and your family. Our words hold the power to shape our circumstances and bring about positive change.

Navigating the challenging journey of parenthood, we often find ourselves facing unexpected toddler tantrums. These moments can test our patience and composure, making it essential to equip ourselves with effective strategies for maintaining harmony in our households.

Yet, we all know that parenting can be overwhelming at times. It's crucial to seek help and support to ease the stress that can accumulate in our daily lives. When we manage to relax, we become better equipped to be a source of calm for our children, steering clear of being drawn into their emotional turmoil. This heightened composure enables us to exhibit more patience, understanding, and empathy.

This is where Little Lunches steps in to lend a helping hand. We understand the demands of parenting, and one significant way we support parents is by simplifying meal planning, a task that often contributes to parental stress. Developed by a team of clinical dietitians, Little Lunches takes the hassle of meal planning off your plate, allowing you to prioritize your well-being and, in turn, be the best version of yourself for your children. With Little Lunches, you can streamline your weekly meal planning, access expert advice, and receive a personalized grocery list, ensuring your child's nutritional needs are met. As we've learned, maintaining composure and focusing on empathy are crucial in parenting, and Little Lunches empowers you to achieve this by reducing mealtime stress and freeing up more quality time to connect with your child.

In summary, tantrums are a form of communication, and our role as parents is to listen, understand, and support our children in expressing their needs. By implementing these strategies, seeking support when needed, and embracing tools like Little Lunches, we can create a more harmonious and nurturing environment for our families, where empathy and positive communication thrive. Remember, our words and actions have the power to shape our children's futures, and every effort we make towards understanding and empathy goes a long way in building strong, loving bonds with our little ones.


By: Monica M. Facusse, Psychologist/Psychotherapist & Health Coach, for Little Lunches


2 years ago