Very intense tantrums can be so strong and come so out of the blue that it takes us by surprise not knowing what do to. Especially when they happen outside the house (Target tantrums, anyone? 🙋🏾)
The saying "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" couldn't be truer when it comes to tantrums. And while tantrum prevention is the best way to avoid tantrums all together, below you'll find strategies to overcome them successfully on the spot. Even at Target.
What NOT to do during an intense tantrum
There are a few big No-No's when dealing with tantrums, so let's address them first so we are all on the same page:
- Attempting to talk your child out of their tantrum. Any sort of rationalization of their emotional state not only won't work... but it will for sure worsen the case. Their little brain is effectively freaking out and any attempt to bring the voice of reason here is a complete waste of time, sadly.
- Putting your child on a time-out. Misbehavior and tantrums are actually two very different things. A child who freaks out and bursts into an intense tantrum is: 1) not able to communicate 2) not processing their emotions as an adult would 3) not doing it on purpose as it appears to be on the surface.
- Punishing your child/spanking/yelling. Not only this won't work... it will also affect your relationship with your child and their trust in you listening to them and being there for them when they need you the most.
How to stop a very intense tantrum on the spot
While our tantrum-taming-method focuses on prevention and preparing you and your little one, sometimes you'll need concrete strategies to ride the big tantrum wave effectively.
- Lower yourself to the floor, reaching your little one's height and acknowledge their feelings, by labeling their emotions. "You are very upset because you don't want to leave the park now". Make it a very straightforward - simply putting into words what they might be feeling. If you have no clue of what ignited the tantrum, try a more generic "I see you are very upset".
- Offer a hug. Sometimes it helps to ask for a hug for you, as opposed to the other way around.
- Don't give in to the specific -and most likely irrational- request that started the tantrum, rather work on something they can get away with, to quickly redirect their attention. For example, if you are at Target, and your little one was insisting on shopping for a toy that you won't buy, don't give in to that specific toy, but offer to take a picture of it and add it to their wishlist, for the holidays/their birthday, etc. You can create an album in your phone that can be accessed easily.