Tips for Handling the Dreaded Tantrums

Handling the Dreaded Tantrums

The incessant crying and boisterous stomping echoes throughout the house, disrupting everything and everyone. It’s the dreaded tantrums. Everyone hears about it, but being in the situation is much more daunting. Now, studies show that 23-83 percent[1] of all 2-4 year-olds have temper tantrums at least a few times. So, it’s widely common and thanks to the internet, much easier to handle.

What Are Tantrums?

Tantrums are outbursts of anger, stress, or frustration. While common in children, many adults can have them as well. Children with higher temperament can be more likely to have tantrums. However, many factors can contribute to a sudden eruption of anger.

Why Do Tantrums Happen?

Tantrums are more likely to happen when a certain number of stimuli occur. This can range from emotional responses to even a stressful situation. Some examples include:

  • Intense feelings of stress, anxiety, and overstimulation
  • Physical responses such as tiredness or hunger
  • Stressful situations like someone stealing a toy or having to nap when they don’t want to
  • Strong emotions such as worry, fear, shame, guilt, or anger

While no one can prevent all of the unfortunate emotions from boiling to the surface, it’s important to understand the triggers beforehand.

What are Some Tantrum Triggers?

Tantrum triggers are triggers that can cause unfortunate responses from children. It’s important to identify and plan for the situation[2] as early as possible! The most common triggers are hunger, attention, busy day, and the pressure trigger.

  • Hunger: Hunger reduces one’s ability to cope and can give children an anxious feeling. Packing small snacks for the upcoming day is a good way to prevent any tantrums.
  • Attention: Children crave attention, especially from their parents. Offer a family-bonding activity or a nice, calming distraction.
  • Busy day: Avoid cramming a busy schedule into any child’s day. They’re still processing enough as it is. Unless a child brings up lessons or a new hobby, don’t push anything onto them.
  • Pressure: If too much of a good thing is happening, it can overwhelm a child to the point of a breakdown. If the slightest sense of a breakdown is coming, try to gently nudge them into a different activity. It could even be something as little as getting a drink from the fridge or going upstairs real quick for something.

Whether it be in public or in the privacy of one’s own home, try to prepare as much as possible.

Developing The Strategy

The tough part: making the strategy. Some take on a more calm approach, while others take on a more unyielding stance. It truly depends on each child and situation, but nevertheless, it’s good to come up with a solid plan for any case scenario. Some examples can be to:

  • Take them aside and wait it out. Let them show their emotions freely until they tire out. Once they do, communicate! Ask them about their feelings and help them make sense of it all. Stay calm and keep the space as serene as possible.
  • Some have had luck distracting[3] their children with a calming activity.
  • Take charge and show them who’s boss. Be firm, but don’t shout. Don’t give in to the tantrum.
  • Focus on active listening to help reset children’s emotions.

Either mix a few or create a whole new strategy! Each child is unique in their own way, even with tantrums. It’s good to analyze how positive the outcome is afterward and see if any progress is made by the next tantrum!

Forgive yourself if the first few times aren’t successful

Mantras to Keep In Mind

Like anything in parenting, it’s good to develop a strong strategy to tackle tantrums. There are multiple avenues to take when the kids get a little too fussy. So for the first few times, experimentation is the best way to figure out a good strategy. But a few things to keep in mind throughout the process are:

  • Forgive yourself if the first few times aren’t successful. Parenting isn’t a science.
  • Accept that no one can control a child’s emotions but themselves. Work on guiding and teaching how to handle one’s emotions.
  • Stay patient.
  • Don’t take it personally, children are still new to the world! They’re processing how to be people!
  • Don’t laugh during it. It may encourage bad behavior.

While the infamous tantrums are disorienting for everyone, they’re possible to conquer. Through trial-and-error and heavy research, the full-proof strategies will make themselves in no time! Just repeat the mantras, stay calm, and make sure to hug everyone extra tight once it’s all over.


[1] Children’s Anger and Tantrums – 10.248. (2016, April 13). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/family-home-consumer/childrens-anger-and-tantrums-10-248/

[2] Planning ahead: Behaviour management tool. (2018, July 26). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/behaviour/behaviour-management-tips-tools/planning-ahead

[3] Distraction: Behaviour management tool. (2019, May 09). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/behaviour/behaviour-management-tips-tools/distraction

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