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How to Response Positively to Tantrums

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

I made this infographic to summarize the common ways adults REACT to a child throwing a tantrum and how we can RESPOND better.

I've said it before, and I'm saying it again -- No one in the history of calming down has someone calmed down, by being told to calm down. This is just one of the many "ineffective" ways we deal with a tantrum.

It's good to remember that all behavior is communication so before we join the chaos, try to decipher what is being communicated to us. I used the word "decipher" because 60% of communication done by HUMANS is non-verbal. For example, when you're bored, you yawn. When an infant is hungry, he cries.

And guess what, a child who has tried several times to "communicate" to adults about what he needs, but whose needs remain unmet, will often "misbehave" as a way of sending a very loud message.

Your "feelings" towards the behavior is a big clue on what is the unmet need. For example, my hubby told Kara to nap after she got home from school & she went ballistic (kicking and screaming mode). Hubby felt "challenged" because our child won't listen. Had he yelled or ignored Kara, she would have cried more. Instead, he asked her what things she wanted to do before she naps. She wanted to read her book so she got one, and after a few minutes, we just heard a loud "thump" (she dropped the book on her face and was passed out!) Kids don't like it when they are always TOLD WHAT TO DO - they feel powerless, so by "sharing power" and letting her decide what she wanted to do before napping, the tantrum stopped.

I'm sure adults would feel the same if everything you do is dictated. Anyway, as kids mature, they communicate better but there will really be days when we can't avoid throwing a tantrum. I still do sometimes, and it's just a matter of acknowledging our shortcomings and trying to do better next time.

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