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Eight Tips to Surviving a Tantrum

You can’t avoid every tantrum, but here are some ideas to help you survive them more gracefully.

Know your child’s limits. Obviously, some days are harder than others. Sometimes we don’t get to finish the to-do list.

  1. Give your child enough attention and “catch her being good.” Provide specific praise in successful moments. However, don’t feel that if one child tantrums more than another that you aren’t providing enough attention. Personality is infused in behaviors, including tantrums.

  2. During a tantrum, give your child control over little things (offer small, directed choices with options rather than yes/no questions).

  3. Distraction. Move to a new room. Offer a safer toy. However silly, sing a song. Choose your battles and accommodate when you can. Sometimes you have to give in a little to settle yourself; that’s OK. However, your consistency from day to day is key in reducing the level and frequency of tantrums. So is time. Although most tantrums happen in 1- to 3-year-old children, many children continue to throw tantrums into the school years.

  4. Know your child’s limits. Obviously, some days are harder than others. Sometimes we don’t get to finish the to-do list.

  5. Do not ignore behaviors like hitting, kicking, biting, or throwing. Have a zero-tolerance policy.

  6. Set your child up for success. If tantrums peak when your child is hungry, have a healthy snack with you when you’re out of the house. If they peak when your child is fatigued, prioritize sleep/nap time even if you miss things. Sometimes it’s far better on all of us.

  7. Give yourself a break when you need it. Take turns with another parent or friend when your frustration escalates.

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