Early Development & Well Being, Parent Support & Resources

Managing Tantrums

If your child is throwing a tantrum, it can feel overwhelming. However, tantrums and other out of control behaviors are normal ways of your child expressing his or her feelings. In the first 5 years, your child is still learning to cope with feelings and can often feel confused or overwhelmed, leading to outbursts. 

You can provide loving guidance to help your child understand and deal with their feelings. By doing this, you are helping them avoid behavior like crying, aggression, and defiance.

As a parent or caregiver, you can help your child through difficult moments with the following tips.

  1. Help them understand their feelings. Naming your child’s feelings can help them process what is happening.
  2. Offer ideas on how to process their feelings. It is important to teach your child that there are many ways of expressing their feelings that are not harmful to others. Examples include jumping up and down, ripping up a piece of paper, or cuddling up for some quiet time. 
  3. Give them space. This helps them to learn how to calm down on their own. When you return, be sure to empathize with them and make it clear that you understand why they might feel upset. 
  4. Help them practice self-control. Activities that require patience, like games that require turn-taking, are great opportunities for your child to develop self-control. 

Once your child calms down and all rules and boundaries are understood, be sure to move on to other activities. While hard feelings can be difficult for a young child to process, they do not necessarily last for long.

Source: Zero to Three