How to Handle Tantrums: Connecting with Your Child In the Moment

Kids don’t want to feel outraged, frustrated, or out of control. When kids are most upset, they need their parents the most. Why? Because they don’t know how to control their emotions and they seek the guidance of their parents.

A parent's natural reaction might be to discipline using lots of words or to try to negotiate with the two or more that are in conflict. Instead, according to Dan Siegel’s book, No-Drama Discipline, parents should instead seek to CONNECT with their child who is upset. Connection means getting on their level, speaking softly, and giving them a hug. This is necessary to let the child calm down and to be ready for their brain to engage in effective discipline.

What would it feel like if when you were upset someone told you “Just calm down” or “It’s not a big deal?”. These responses would make us feel terrible, yet we do it to our kids all the time. By seeking CONNECTION, we allow our children to calm themselves and in turn allows them to feel felt. This empathy soothes the nervous system and provides a sense of comfort.

After your child has calmed down, then you can talk to them about the behavior that caused them to explode and help them process it, so that they can better integrate their behavior with the feelings they had in the moment.

Read more strategies for calming in the excellent book, No-Drama Discipline, and check out Curly Clues Club Sibling Conflict Box, which is about connection and ways to calm when tensions and emotions run high between siblings or friends!

No-Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel

No-Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel

Curly Clues Club is a monthly box delivery service for kids ages 3-8, focused on social and emotional development. All boxes include original content designed with love by a speech & language pathologist.

Jane Koerbel