Handling Tantrums: Staying Calm and Connected

Tantrums – they’re a normal part of your child’s growth journey, even if they might drive you a bit crazy at times! Before diving into the world of meltdowns, remember this: your child isn’t misbehaving on purpose; they’re simply expressing their big emotions in the only way they know how. Here are some techniques we use at Westcliff Early Learning Academy to help support children when they are feeling dysregulated.

  1. Stay calm: Before addressing the tantrum, take a moment to center yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in their chaos, but by staying calm, you can guide them better.
  2. Embrace the Tantrum: Tantrums are a vital part of your child’s development. They’re learning how to cope with their feelings and needs. So, remember, they’re not being “bad.”
  3. Remember: This Too Shall Pass: In the heat of the moment, remind yourself that tantrums are temporary. They won’t last forever, even though it might seem like it is in the middle of a meltdown.
  4. Embrace the Learning: Tantrums are a healthy part of your child’s growth. Through these episodes, they learn to recognize their emotions, cope with disappointments, and handle new situations. Help them by stating what you observed “You threw that toy, you must have been really mad and now you’re crying. I’m here for you when you feel like that.” and offer closeness. This is not a time to correct or punish behavior.
  5. Co-regulation: co-regulation is a precursor to self-regulation. This is why it is important to approach the tantrum with compassion and love.
  6. Recap: When the child is in a healthy state of mind and the tantrum has passed, is when we can teach techniques. “You were so angry you threw that toy earlier. What are some other ways you can express that anger safely?” Collaborate together on tactics to use next time. If your child is nonverbal, keep the language simple and you model for them “Throwing toys can hurt and break things. Next time you feel like that, let’s do dinosaur stomps instead. Practice with me!” Then practice it together, laugh, and have fun with it. Next time you see your child getting mad, remind them to try the “dinosaurs stomp”.

Remember, each tantrum is a chance for your child to learn and grow, and for you to show them how to navigate their emotions. Stay patient, and keep these tips in your parenting toolkit!