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Learn how to deal with tantrums and avoid them

Tantrums are one of the most common behaviors in children. But also the most difficult for parents. Learn some strategies to avoid them.

Learn how to deal with tantrums and avoid them
Margarida Gamboa
by Margarida Gamboa
They are frequent and often drive any parent crazy. Anyway, know that tantrums are natural and part of the child's growth. With this assumption that tantrums are normal, it is important to help your child deal with them and avoid them as he gets more mature.



Show feelings

The first example must come from yourself. Children copy and imitate the adults around them and are constantly learning concepts and behaviors. Thus, it is very important that you externalize your feelings, explaining to the child what you are feeling and how you are trying to overcome this situation. Whether because you feel sad, frustrated or even very happy. Explain the situation and show feelings.


Encourage your child to show feelings

In addition to showing your feelings, it is also important that you give your child the confidence to also show theirs. Don't immediately say “Don't be crying because it's nothing”, ask instead “Why are you crying? I want to understand to help you ”. This will help, little by little, the child to learn to express their feelings verbally and in the future, as teenagers and adults, they can “solve” them better, asking for help when they need it, have a better self- esteem, etc. This expression of feeling helps to avoid tantrums that are nothing more than the result of not being able to express what you feel in the best way. This learning starts as a baby, explaining, for example, why the child is crying, why he feels this way or why a certain thing can or cannot be done.


Keep calm

It is very frustrating for parents when they cannot get the child to hear what they are saying because it is already in the tantrum phase. At this time they lose their cool and also start screaming. And suddenly everyone is screaming and it will be impossible for the child to calm down. Of course, it is sometimes very difficult to remain calm because the parents are also human. But it is a process of awareness that the parents themselves have to work. Keeping calm before, during and after tantrums is essential.


Help the child to stay calm

If the child is very frustrated and agitated, maybe that won't be the best time to talk about it. Try to distract him: play, take a walk on the street, listen to a story. But later, when the child is calmer, take the opportunity to talk about what happened, ask him what he felt and try to understand his reasons. Also give the child space to vent their feelings and become calm again: after all, even adults sometimes need a few minutes to calm down.

Teach the child how to deal with frustration

Frustration will be part of anyone's life at various levels: personal, emotional, professional, etc. It is essential that the child learns to deal with frustration and learn the mechanisms, as an adult, will allow him to overcome situations, be emotionally stronger, tolerant, confident and respectful. Thus, it is advisable that from 1 year of age, the child begins to overcome situations that will cause some frustration, to learn how to deal with it. You can put that toy he wants a little further away, you can ask to wait while a conversation is ending up, to the level where the child has to start being autonomous in some behaviors.


Avoid extreme situations

There are situations that are triggers for a tantrum. The most common: sleep, hunger and tiredness. In these situations, tolerance to frustration is lower and tantrums are easier to start. Do not put your child in more demanding social or learning situations when he is hungry, sleepy or very tired. If it is not possible to avoid the situation, you already know that you will have to be more patient.


Change focus

When you know your child, you already know which situations cause tantrums more easily: if it is time to eat, change the diaper, go to school, parties with lots of people, trips to the stores and requests for toys. If it is an expected situation, talk to the child first and if he already has the understanding to understand, explain to him what will happen. If it is an unexpected situation (a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket because you really want that) try to change the focus of attention: tell a story, talk about something completely different, arrange something with the child.


Set boundaries

The issue of tantrums is closely linked to learning the limits. We are born with no sense of limits and these are learned throughout life: some are “biological”, as they determine life or death, others cultural. Everyone is important, respecting oneself and others. That is why parents often have to say "No", when it would be simpler to say "Yes". But it is important to make the limits clear to children, as they learn much more easily if the information is easy to understand than if it is not. And you cannot demand it, if those limits are not well defined.



To help understand feelings and emotions, so important to overcome tantrums, you can play games and read books that help the child to understand what he feels. We suggest the book The Color Monster, by Anna Lennas, a book where the main character is a monster that changes color depending on what he feels.
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