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!
North Shore Family Services is a team of skilled and approachable therapists that help parents, children, teens, adults, and couples reduce anxiety and stress, learn effective problem-solving techniques, and manage emotions and behaviors that inhibit personal, school, family, and relationship success. We make therapy a productive, engaging and relaxing place for everyone to work hard and make the improvements they desire. To find the right-fit therapist for you and your family, visit our clinician’s page.