Tips for Handling Tantrums

Tantrums - loads of different tips for handling tantrums, different tips will work best for different kids but this list will help you find those that work for you and your family

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Tantrums - loads of different tips for handling tantrums, different tips will work best for different kids but this list will help you find those that work for you and your familyThere are days – and even whole weeks – when I think we have it sorted! No explosive wails of “No, no, no!”, no running away screaming and no lying on floor with flailing arms and legs.

And there are some days – and even some whole weeks – when I cannot believe I can be getting it sooo wrong!

I have been trying to work out whether there is any magic ingredient to what I do right when everything is sweetness and light and what I do wrong when World War III is raging in the sitting room.

Sometimes it’s just bad luck – us both being under the weather, teeth, not enough sleep, mummy trying to do too much and failing dramatically.

Sometimes I definitely just need to sit down and think about what I’m doing wrong and really read around for advice.  Other times I just need simple reminders or extra ideas of how to get through the week and this list is my quick grab crib sheet of ideas that I’ve begged and borrowed from friends with much more expertise than me in the matter!


Tips for Handling Tantrums

  1. Try to keep to clear routines
  2. Give fair warning that we’re about to change what we’re doing
  3. Don’t drag out tantrum trigger points – e.g. hair wash – get it over with
  4. Watch out for blood sugar levels – yours as well as there’s!
  5. Make sure they’re not thirsty
  6. Watch out for them getting tired
  7. Spend at least 15 minutes with them in quiet time every day
  8. Make sure get a chance to run around – outside ideally – every day
  9. Don’t try to win every battle
  10. Work out which battles you won’t give on e.g. basic cleanliness, manners, bed time
  11. Keep dull stuff – e.g. getting dressed – brief but don’t hurry-scurry them
  12. Ignore minor tantrums avoiding eye contact
  13. Practice keeping calm – counting to 10, deep breathing, personal “time out”
  14. Set an example by not being grumpy, irritable, shouty
  15. Avoid saying NO to everything
  16. Offer an explanation of why you’re saying no
  17. Acknowledge their feelings – “You feel cross. Mummy feels cross sometimes.”
  18. Acknowledge your own feelings – “I feel tired.” “It makes me sad”
  19. Talk about feelings – theirs and yours
  20. Repeat back what they say to you so they feel listened to
  21. Pile on the praise but keep it genuine
  22. Listen out for real concerns – e.g. unhappiness in child care
  23. Explain what you can and can’t change
  24. Don’t assume they feel the same as you – e.g. may not be hot, tired, thirsty if you are
  25. Distract them from tantrum with something funny – potty humour always a hit!
  26. Let them know if their behaviour hurts
  27. Accept that tantrums are normal
  28. Give lots of short bursts of quality time
  29. Don’t give into demands during tantrums
  30. Avoid eye contact during a tantrum
  31. Keep them safe – if in danger wrap in arms however much they flail
  32. Help them see “time out” as a safe space to calm down rather than punishment
  33. Just get outside – sometimes just bundling them out to the garden or park will help
  34. Make up after it’s all over


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Hello, I'm Luci, Editor of Mums Make Lists. MML is full of creative tips I’ve put together to bring calm and balance to the lives of busy mums and their families.

13 thoughts on “Tips for Handling Tantrums”

  1. Mine’s a bit too small for full on tantrums at the moment but it won’t be long! I shall watch the comments and links with interest! Need to get myself prepared I think 😉 lol x

  2. Our’s just appeared out of nowhere – wham! Now she’s not bad most of the time – sort of low level warfare around getting washed and dressed – and then phases of complete mutiny. Going through one at the moment because she has to do everything for herself!

  3. I’m not to the tantrum stage yet, but as a teacher, I love that you included some emotional education. So often tantrums and physical forms of acting out are because of the child’s inability to communicate how they are feeling. Also, we’re living in a society that wants to push off some of the basics of parenting to the teachers and, therefore, the children don’t know about or don’t care about hygiene, exercise, healthy eating, etc. This is a great list. -Mikah

    1. They’re such a mixture of things aren’t they – genuine grievances and frustrations all bundled up with being tired, hungry and thirsty. Very hard to keep juggling all these in your mind.

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