Key Strategies to Preventing a Tantrum

Tantrums…The question is, what is your child trying to communicate?

  • If you have a sensitive child, a tantrum may be an indicator that she is at her limit of coping with demands and your response will be to find a cozy space and help her to calm.
  • If your child is testing boundaries, than you may hold firm while being empathetic to the fact that he is upset.
  • If your child has discovered that acting out is a fast way to get your attention, you may then realize you need to create a daily playtime with her and give her praise for positive actions across the day.
  • If your child is very physically active and thus vulnerable to getting overloaded easily, you may use a quiet voice to calm him and then problem solve when he is calm.
  • If your child is tired or hungry, you may have a quiet time, snack or simply reduce demands as you realize that her tantrum behavior is a physiologic response, rather than willful.
  • Sometimes you just don’t know and on these occasions it is best to err on the side of being empathetic to your child’s emotion and then seeing if her response gives you a cue about what the tantrum behavior is communicating.

The truth is that most of tantrum-management is preventative! Here are some key strategies …

  • Have consistent eating, sleeping and daily routines
  • Prepare your child for changes in schedule
  • If there have been disruptions in your daily routines, adjust your expectations and reduce demands accordingly
  • Set clear boundaries about what is acceptable and stick to them; Be firm but empathetic
  • Remind your child about the rules before you enter a situation
  • Praise him early and often for sticking to the rules
  • Physical play will “discharge” your child’s pent up emotions
  • Have at 2 “quiet times” set aside in the day to have a break from the hectic pace of life and “regroup”
  • Don’t overschedule with extracurricular activities.
  • Have daily conversations about events and feelings; this will help your child communicate with words rather than big behavior.
  • Have FUN play with your child daily.