Handling Tantrums Without Losing Your Sanity

A little toddler boy crying

If you’re a parent, you know how difficult dealing with tantrums is and how easily you can fall into the trap of getting angry and saying or doing something you regret. Whether you’re at home or in a public area, when your kid begins yelling, crying, or even kicking, you can easily get overwhelmed and not know how to handle the situation. Kids’ brains are developing, and often they don’t know how to convey to you what they are feeling, which results in frustration and can lead to a tantrum. Although it doesn’t make handling tantrums easier, knowing that they are most likely frustrated at their lack of communication skills can help you take a step back and realize you need to get to the root of the issue. If you’re looking for ways to handle tantrums with your child, here are some things you can do that may help. 

Stay Calm

Staying calm is the first and foremost rule for handling tantrums. Take a few deep, calming breaths and remind yourself there is a reason for their behavior. Look at it as a puzzle and try to figure out what upset them, that they can’t communicate with you. Keeping a calm head will give you the ability to help your child, which can end the tantrum faster. If you allow yourself to get upset, too, it will escalate the situation and make calming your child down even harder. 

Set Boundaries

If you find the tantrums involve physical harm like hitting, kicking, biting, etc., you must set and stick to boundaries for your child. They must know physical violence is never acceptable behavior, and there are consequences if they use it. Tell them things like, “it is never ok to hurt people; we do not _____ (enter their behavior).” once you’ve set the boundary, enforce a punishment if they cross it, whether it’s time-out, taking away a privilege, or an age-appropriate chore. It may take a while for them to accept the boundaries, but as long as you stick to it, you will see a difference in their behavior. 

Redirect Their Attention

Young children have a short attention span, which is useful when handling tantrums. Often, the simple act of redirecting their attention can cause them to forget what they were upset about and end the tantrum. Try keeping a special toy you can give them or make a funny face. Doing something unexpected will grab their attention and can turn the situation around. 

Hold Them

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, you know the power in a comforting embrace; the same goes for kids. As we mentioned, many times a tantrum is a response to their inability to communicate with you or express their emotions. That leads to frustration and anger, which shows as crying, screaming, or physical violence. Holding your kids when they feel this way can help calm them down and reassure them and is an excellent way to reconnect with them. Studies show that physical touch releases serotonin in our brains, which creates a calm and happy feeling. Children thrive when exposed to a parent’s embrace, and it can turn a stressful situation into a special time of bonding and love. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t want you to hold them or if they push you away. Every child is different, and some personalities are predisposed not to like physical touch very much. You can still comfort them by sitting near them or speaking calming and positive affirmations. 

Handling tantrums is an area of parenting that isn’t for the faint of heart! Especially when they occur in a public place, tantrums are stressful for everyone involved. If your child is at an age where tantrums seem like a daily occurrence, take heart, that stage doesn’t last forever, and it will get better. In the meantime, there are ways to help you deal with the tantrums and maintain your sanity throughout. Utilize tips like staying calm, setting boundaries, redirecting your child’s attention, and holding them to help calm and soothe the behavior. Parenting is the most challenging job in the world, but it’s also the most rewarding. You’ve got this, and one day you’ll look back and see these truly are the best years of your life!