Tantrums [Zero to Three website]


Anyone who has interacted with young children knows that tantrums can be hard to manage!  Children are still growing in their ability to manage emotions, and they need patience and guidance along the way.  The Zero to Three website can provide tips and strategies for helping children work through these difficult emotions, and help parents and caregivers stay level headed in the face of them.


Acknowledge what your child is feeling.  It is never wrong for a child to feel angry or sad, but you can set limits on some challenging behaviors that may accompany a tantrum.  For example, it is okay to be mad, it is not okay to break things or hit.


If, as a caregiver, you are feeling overwhelmed, and are in a safe environment with the child, it's okay to step away for a moment to regain control over your own emotions.  Once you have calmed down, you can return to dealing with the tantrum.  Remaining calm is so important, and will help to ensure that the situation doesn’t escalate.  Sometimes, a child may just need a moment on their own to express the intense emotions they are feeling and begin to calm down.   

What strategies have worked for you during tantrums?  Share ideas in the comments!


Watch the video below, and visit ZerotoThree.org for more resources.


Tantrums, Defiance, Aggression—Oh My! from ZEROTOTHREE on Vimeo.


Want to join the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence? Visit NPEIV.org for more information

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Comments (4)

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That seems a great strategy Laura!  I think sometimes young children need help just identifying their emotions and know that someone understands they are upset (works for a lot of adults too! )  

I like your point about how it helped her switch from tantrum to talking, a skill that will help her going forward in understanding her own emotions and having her needs met.  

I was watching a friend's two and a half year old while she was with her baby, and she began to get upset (pre-tantrum).   I got down to her level, face to face, and said "I can see you are very upset, and I want to help you feel better.  Can you tell me how I can help you?  I care that you feel sad.  I will keep helping until you feel better."  

Just letting her know that seemed to de-fuse the situation entirely.  She stopped wailing, began talking and it was over within a minute or so.