Although frustrating for parents, tantrums are often a part of normal child development that occur in response to everyday frustrations. Tantrums or meltdowns can also occur in response to sensory overload in the environment, or if children are feeling anxious, dysregulated, or even socially isolated. Tantrums are generally expressed as crying, screaming yelling, and can lead to hitting and kicking. It is important to look at the root cause of tantrums if they are ongoing. For example, tantrums and meltdowns can be reinforced if their child has found a way to gain something of personal value. Tantrums may also be continuous if the sensory system cannot adapt to the environment. In this case your child may need some additional environmental supports. If your child is experiencing tantrums that seem excessive in length or time it is important to find the underlying cause and a solution so they are able to learn and thrive!
Tips for Dealing with Tantrums
The most important factor in dealing with Tantrums is understanding the underlying cause and being proactive in preventing them from occurring or minimizing the time they occur for. In order to determine the underlying cause, take note of when the tantrums most frequently occur, and what happens before, during, and after the tantrum. Reactive strategies are vastly different than their proactive counterparts. When your child or teen is in the middle of a tantrum or meltdown it is important to validate their emotions, keep them safe, and use minimal language. Once they are in the “throws” of a tantrum, it is important to remember that their brains have gone offline. At this point, they cannot process any information, however if you can keep them emotionally safe in this experience, they will learn self-calming skills. Your child or teen will also learn that they can count on you as a “safe” person to get their emotional needs met.