Four ways to stop a tantrum

Manage outbursts and keep the peace, says Sarah Neish


Four ways to stop a tantrum

1. Look bored

When a child has a tantrum in public we often feel embarrassed, which ‘can make us react angrily. ‘Most people aren’t thinking you’re a bad parent, they’re genuinely sympathetic,’ says family psychotherapist Miriam Chachamu, author of How To Calm A Challenging Child. ‘Looking bored can be far more effective than getting angry, as children are often acting up to get attention.’

2. Don't be quick to say no

Prevention is better than cure. ‘Many parents say no too quickly, which ‘can send young children to boiling point,’ says Chachamu. Showing a child you’re on their side often helps prevent conflict. For example, ‘I wish I could buy this toy for you, but unfortunately it’s too expensive’ is much better than a short, sharp ‘no’.

3. Get physical

In stressful situations your child’s body produces a fight-or-flight response. Avert the crisis, then do something physical with them. Jumping, running or skipping allows their body to do what it has prepared itself to do, and uses up the extra adrenalin. Coaxing kids to expend energy will help them stay calm.

4. Let them make amends

The consequence for bad behaviour doesn’t always have to be punishment. ‘Children can feel terrible after doing something wrong,’ says Chachamu. ‘Letting them do something kind to make up for their actions gets the message across that they’ve been naughty, but allows you both to move on.’