Calming Tantrums: Tips to help your child manage big feelings

Tantrums are something every mother has dealt with at some point or another. Currently I have a 2 and a 4-year-old in my home, so it’s almost a given that one will happen at some point in the day.

Calming Tantrums Helping Your Child Manage Big Feelings

When these tantrums do strike, the one thing I immediately tell myself (so that I don’t succumb to impatience or annoyance) is that this is temporary. I remember that right now, my little guy (the 2 or 4-year-old), is having much bigger feelings than he knows how to deal with, and its my job to help him navigate that.

By keeping this mindset, I have slowly begun to develop a toolbox that helps me deal with the tantrums when they come. They also help me teach my sons coping skills that they will eventually use on their own to self-soothe. I have already begun to see this in my four-year-old.

Obviously, these don’t always work 100% of the time, but I can usually use one or two to weather the worst of a tantrum. Of course, you know your child and will learn which type of tantrums warrants which type of trick.

Tantrum Toolbox

Distractions

Now, I don’t mean that you bribe your child to stop (not that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind), but instead, give them they use to focus their feelings.  We have utilized this trick in so many ways:

  • Sensory Bottles
  • Music
  • Coloring pages
  • Playdoh
  • Dancing
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Soft talking
  • Deep breaths

This tool tends to work the best, as it helps them grapple with their feelings with an actual outlet. So many times, we have cut a tantrum short when we offer our son a way to work out his feelings. Also, I’ve noticed we often must mix these options up and offer them based on whatever our kids are into that day/week/month.

Offering a quiet place

I have been known to pick up one of my boys and take them to their bed or their quiet space when it’s obvious they just cannot be around anyone. We have a tent that we got from Ikea and we have filled it with blankets and pillows. It’s a known favorite of my older son when he gets overwhelmed. He will dive in there and hide out until he feels calm and ready to talk about his feelings.

I also think that sometimes my son gets embarrassed that he had acted that way, and it helps him reconcile with himself before seeking me or his dad out.

Hugs

A child having a tantrum is typically no longer in control of their feelings. Sometimes they just need to know that a loved one is there in order to re-center. This tends to work best when used in the midst of an emotional tantrum.  My older son has some sensory processing issues and I feel that the deep pressure of a hug helps calm him as well. There is something soothing about the presence of warm arms and knowing that you are in a safe place that can help you calm down. I like to get down on the same level of my kids and ask softly if they want a hug. Sometimes the acknowledgement and that simple question is enough to stop the tantrum right in its tracks.

Ignore

Sometimes it is best to walk away. When my child has a tantrum mixed with a power struggle, it’s best to just remove myself from the equation. My husband likens it to feeding the beast. Sometimes when you stay and engage, you are just causing the tantrum to get bigger and bigger. Remove the “food source” in this scenario and it may help end the tantrum sooner.

 

The most important thing, no matter which tactic is used, is that you take the time to acknowledge the feelings. Once your child is calm, validate what she was feeling. Help her verbalize what she was feeling if possible. I personally never want to tell my children to “get over it”, or “you’re okay, you’ll be fine,” or “let it go buddy.” Why?  Because, I would never want someone to say those kinds of things to me when I feel sad or angry. That would make me feel so small and not heard. So, why on earth would I do that to my children?

It’s inevitable that your child is going to have a tantrum. It just comes with the territory. But I hope that by offering these tips and tricks, it may make that rollercoaster of a ride just a wee bit smoother.

What secrets of the tantrum do you have? How do you calm your children during a tantrum?

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Courtney likes to describe herself as a lover of lists and post-its, all things nerdy, and as an all-around pretty awesome person. She lives in Marion with her husband, Jon, their two sons, and their two crazy cats. Both of her boys are rainbow babies, with Everett arriving in December 2013, and Hendrix in March 2016. Courtney is a Penn State graduate, and currently works as a team lead for a state agency. Aside from attempting to be successful at this parenting thing, she likes to go on adventures with her family that includes trying out all the local parks and ice cream stops. Courtney also likes to binge watch Netflix, attempt all things from Pinterest, and can be occasionally be found on her couch doing both