They are sometimes unpredictable and triggered by the smallest things, but oh boy tantrums are never fun!

Just last week, my family and I are sitting at a restaurant enjoying dinner when my 1 year old daughter throws her crayon across the table and starts screaming. Screaming like this causes us to run down our usual list of suspects:

  • Did she bang her head on the table?
  • Did her crayon break?
  • Did she drop her binky?
  • Did her older sister do something?

When we run down the list and see that none of those are the culprits, we assume it’s just a tantrum. After nine years of being a mother, I have learned a few tips and tricks on how to best handle these emotional storms.

1. Don’t throw your own tantrum in response. When I dealt with my first tantrum years ago, I made the mistake of shouting back and losing my cool. My instinct was to yell back and threaten to take things away from them or to remove them from the room entirely and let them rage alone. This never worked! Instead, I have learned that the best thing to do is to remain calm and stick with them as they ride their emotional rollercoaster.

2. Don’t give in. When the screaming starts (especially in public) your instinct is to throw the white flag up. My go-to was to hand over my phone, my tablet, snacks, or toys. It became a negotiation, where my kiddo was Al Pacino in the Godfather and I was just obeying their every demand and giving them whatever they wanted in order to stop the screaming. Did it work? Yes about 80% of the time, but was it the best idea? No! It taught my kid that if they screamed loud enough then they would get showered with gifts in order to stop. My advice is to just let it happen and move on.

3. Talk after the meltdown. After the storm has passed and you are back in your own world (i.e. home), take the opportunity to talk with your kid about their outburst and see what they say. At the end of the conversation (they may not say much), remind them you love them.

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