We can't expect children to have the self control and executive functioning skills to stop and think "hang on, last time I had a tantrum it didn't feel fun and I was punished - I shouldn't do that again". It just will never happen. That's why when children are shouted at or punished for hitting, biting or misbehaving they DO IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Proof that punishment isn't the answer. Punishment doesn't get to the root of the issue.
"SO WHAT CAN I DO?! I hear everyone say. "Emotional regulation takes years to develop!" (Up to age 25!!)
✅ HELP THEM BUILD UP SKILLS OVER TIME.
Our reaction really matters. What we do (model) teaches them how to cope with big emotions. So yes - if we shout then they learn to shout.
✅ PAUSE AND HOLD SPACE.
Focus on keeping them safe. You can gently move them to somewhere private if they're in public. You can gently stop them hurting themselves or other things.
✅ ACKNOWLEDGE AND NAME THE FEELINGS
This helps them to identify their emotions and link them to a word. Be genuine. "You're really angry because you wanted the TV on. I hear you. I'm here". You don't have to stay really close or even pause what you're doing - you can be in the vacinity and still show that you care.
Take your own quiet, deep breaths. Tantrums can be super triggering and you might feel like you're doing it all wrong oe that you just want to scare them into shutting up. Just breathe to remember that this will pass and to show them how to keep their body calm.
✅ WHEN THEY'RE CALMER...
Verbalise that boundary and talk about it. This is where you can problem solve together and find another activity or teach them what they could say next time. "Next time shout for an adult to come and help you if your sister is taking your things. We will always come and stop her".
Share this with a parent who's seeing all sorts of tantrums. I know we are.
You've got this.
Watch the full reel here