21 Dec How to Stop Temper Tantrums – 3 Key Steps
Temper tantrum starter: “I don’t want to stop playing my game!” “ I am counting to 3…1,2,3.” “No!” Frustration begins…
We have all been in these situations where the whining begins, and shortly after, the tantrums start. There are several different emotions that occur in these moments and the fear of losing control of the situation begins. There are a few areas of consideration. It is important to understand where the tantrums are coming from and how to de-escalate the situation before it becomes too overwhelming to handle. Below is a 3 step process on how to stop temper tantrums while helping your children improve their emotional regulation and problem-solving skills.
Validate the Emotion
One mistake that often can occur is not validating the emotion in the moment. Instead of saying stop crying or stop yelling, it is important to validate their emotions even when it is irrational in our eyes. To your child, they feel like the situation they are upset about is a big deal and they are unable to stop the tantrum from happening. How to stop temper tantrums? Don’t dismiss the emotion. Dismissing the emotions will only make the tantrum escalate. Below are a list of statements to say to your child in order to validate the emotion:
It’s ok to be sad/angry
This is really hard for you
I’m here with you
Tell me about it
That was really scary, sad, frustrating etc. that/when
I will help you work it out
I hear that you need space
It seems like you need a hug
I want to be here for you
I’ll stay close so you can find me when you’re ready
It doesn’t feel fair
Be a Detective
As parents or caregivers, it is our job to understand where the tantrum is coming from. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the actual situation. It is important to figure out what your child needs in the moment when your child is having a tantrum. Children struggle putting words to their emotions. As adults we want to use our words to give our children the opportunity to problem-solve the situation. We are then teaching our children a foundation for problem-solving skills along with stopping the tantrum. Below is an example on how to stop temper tantrums using the detective method.
During the whining stage, when you suspect that your child might be hungry, tired, etc. use the script below instead of letting the tantrum become worse:
Instead of saying, “Are you hungry? Are you tired?”
Say, Hmm I bet a snack will help your tummy feel better.” Or “I think cuddling with your doggie might help.”
After these steps are completed, redirection or distraction can be an effective way to put boundaries around the situation. A redirection can consist of giving your child a fidget, wrapping them in a blanket, teaching them how to calm down with deep breathing, using a coping skill, asking them to draw their emotions, taking a break, walking into a different room, etc. This will allow the child to re-group and allow you to control the situation and effectively.
These three skills will help teach your child problem-solving skills to assist them in the future. We want them to model a way of using words so they can work through bigger problems when they are older without tantrum like behaviors. Stopping the tantrum is a very big challenge and requires a lot of understanding and patience. Below are a few reminders to help you in the moment and feel empowered to stop the tantrum.
How to Stop Temper Tantrums…Reminders:
- Be aware of your own emotions when handling your child’s tantrum
- Don’t yell and stay calm in the moment
- Validate, validate, validate!
- Never ask Why to figure out the reason for tantrum. Please visit this link for a full article about not using why.
If you would like extra guidance and support, please reach out to North Shore Family Services. We are happy to help you and your family reach your goals!
Sarah is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (Counseling Practice) with a credential in Clinical Child and Family Psychology at Roosevelt University. She also has a Bachelor’s of Science in psychology with a minor in child development and family studies from Purdue University. Since 2011, Sarah has worked with children, teens, young adults, and families in a variety of different settings including day care centers, educational settings, healthcare facilities, and community mental health settings. When she is not with clients, Sarah enjoys the city of Chicago, working out, attending sporting events, and spending time with her family and friends.
Sarah’s professional experience spans all ages Her work with children, teens, and their families includes assisting her clients in tackling emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges to reach their highest potential. She believes in providing a safe and non-judgmental environment where clients work in a collaborative relationship with their therapist to develop specific skills to achieve a positive outcome. She works with children and teens who are struggling with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, impulsivity, defiant behavior, attention issues, school refusal, trauma, low frustration tolerance, and emotional regulation. Sarah often utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), and play therapy in her sessions. She is passionate about encouraging children to communicate their emotions while understanding that their family needs to feel heard and be able to leave the session with a solution. Sarah believes that empowering families to continue to work with their children in stressful situations is a key element in helping families achieve positive outcomes in the therapeutic process.
Sarah is also trained in working with young adults and couples and works collaboratively with them to cope and problem-solve with life-cycle transitions, family conflict, communication problems, infidelity, separation, and divorce. Sarah provides an open, non-judgmental, empathetic, and compassionate setting to allow young adults and couples to feel safe to talk about difficult issues. Sarah believes that anyone who has the motivation and willingness to ask for help shows qualities of bravery and courage, and has her respect.