Five new approaches to the same old tantrum

by | Apr 12, 2016

Break the pattern of any emotional outburst with these new ideas

Is your child “too old for tantrums” but still has emotional meltdowns on a regular basis? Are you tired of living through the same old cycles and not getting anywhere?

Tantrums begin when your child is young and testing out their presence in the world. But sometimes they build a pattern that is so strong that they don’t “grow out of it”. Here are some ideas on how you can try to break that pattern.


1. The opposite reaction.


What are your natural reactions when your child screams, slams a door or throws objects across the room? Do you scream back? Threaten? Punish? Try to talk to them or calm them down?

We all have a natural reaction which becomes a part of our pattern. Try reversing your reaction and see how this affects your child’s behaviour.

If your natural reaction is to talk to them and try to calm them down, try mimicking their behaviour instead. Throw things and scream with them. If you naturally punish your child, try rewarding them instead (sounds crazy I know, but why not give it a try and see what happens?).


2. Ignore it.


I know you have heard it a million times before but consider this option again. This approach works especially well if you are at home or in an environment where you don’t have to worry about your child’s safety while they lose control.

Pretend you don’t notice them at all. Literally carry on with your usual activities while they have it out alone. And if they try to get in your face to get your attention, clinging to you or even hitting you, calmly walk away if you can without looking at them.

Act as if you just remembered there is something in your bedroom or laundry you needed to do. If you need to physically restrain them or remove them from your body do so slowly and calmly and don’t look directly at them (avoid eye contact at all costs!).

The reason you have heard this so many times before is that most children tantrum for attention, and by removing the attention completely you may find the behaviour is short lived.

Note: when ignoring your child is important for them to feel like you don’t notice them. If you look angry or annoyed while ignoring them they may still pick up that they have your attention. This is the key to success here.


3. Act like a lunatic.


What do you think would happen if in the middle of your child’s tantrum you started singing? Or rolling on the floor? Or laughing hysterically? Or acting like a monkey? It might be just enough to grab their attention and break their pattern.

If you do something so unexpected and silly that it stops their tears for a second, you have a brand new opportunity.


4. Touch and listen.


Depending on the type of tantrum your child throws, it may be possible to react with a hug and a kiss and to just listen. Hug them and hear them unconditionally until they wear themselves out.

This can be a useful way of restraining your child if they are violent or physical during their tantrum. Stay with them in the moment until they are calm and rational again (sometimes this may take a while!).

Once they calm down and realise you are still there you may just be able to have a conversation about the cause of the tantrum that is much more effective.


5. Talk to them about it.


If they are old enough, talk to your child about the tantrums at a time when they are not happening. Treat them like you would another adult and time it so that they feel happy and inclined to listen.

This could work when you are spending some quality time together alone and having fun.

Tell them in that moment that it hurts you when they have a tantrum and that you want to be able to help them in those moments. Ask them to share with you what they are feeling when they have a meltdown so that you can discuss it with them.

The idea is to get them thinking about the behaviour in a moment where they feel no inclination to act on it. If they feel that they are getting your attention another way they may want to eliminate the tantrum and have more quality time instead.

Help them through this by offering solutions that you can use together in the moment. This could include guided meditation or an agreed upon action that you will both take part in if your child feels a tantrum coming on.


What do you think?


I hope that this has been helpful for you and I would love to hear your experiences in trying some of these techniques. Join the Facebook community to connect with other mothers of emotional children, and share your insights with the group.

I'm Jess.

I'm Jess.

A mum and a parenting coach.

I help mothers eliminate the extreme emotional behaviours of their child, and grow emotionally intelligent children through love and connection.

I’ve learnt the tools, techniques and mindset needed to take control of my life while helping my son to do the same. But it wasn’t always that way. Read my full story…


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