Tantrums/Outbursts of Anger

  • Tanturm graphic If your child appears to be displaying behaviors that are related to anger, such as screaming, crying, and/or physical aggression…Try these strategies:

    • Understand that behavior is communication 
      • Once the child is calm, encourage them to talk about and problem solve more effective ways to get what they want
      • “You were really angry/upset, and I want to understand why.” 
    • When child is upset, keep talking to a minimum 
      • When you do speak, make sure your voice is neutral, calm, quiet
      • Keep it short/repeat 
        • “I’m here for you” 
        • “Tell me when you are ready to talk” 
        • “Let’s go calm down” (or another phrase that reminds them to utilize their calm down area)
    • Designate a “calm down” area
      • Comfy place to sit/lay 
      • Stress ball/other fidgets/paper to tear 
      • Quiet/calm music 
      • Paper to doodle/journal 
    • As parents we can show our children what calm behavior looks like by remaining in control of our own emotions/action 
      • Use self-talk (“share my calm, don’t joint the chaos”; “they are having a hard time, not giving me a hard time”) 
      • Take deep breaths 
      • Use a grounding technique (e.g. stress ball, take a sip of cold water)
    • Once your child calms down, praise appropriate behavior (e.g. “I love how you and your brother are sharing your toys”) 
      • You can also encourage appropriate behavior by creating a way for your child to earn some of their favorite toys/activities
        • Have the child earn points/stickers to earn something they really enjoy (e.g. 10 stickers = 20 minutes of video games)
    • To avoid tantrums: 
      • Provide time warnings (“5 more minutes”)
      • Break down tasks into simple one-step directions (“first put on your shoes”) 
      • Use “When/Then” statements (“When you finish schoolwork, then you can watch TV”) 
    • Set clear expectations and rules 
      • Provide frequent reminders of those expectations and rules (Visual cues for younger children) 
    • If your child displays physical aggression: 
      • Be consistent when addressing behaviors 
        • “Hitting is not okay, you need to spend some time by yourself and calm down.” 
      • Provide immediate consequences/space to calm down 
        • Younger children may benefit from a timeout or spending time in a calm down area
          • “You cannot hit your brother when you are mad. When you are quiet and calm for 2 minutes, you can come back and play with your brother”
        • Older children should go to their room/calm area to calm down 
        • Loss of privileges
        • If they hurt someone, after they are calm, they should be encouraged to apologize/repair the relationship
      • Discipline should teach your child what to do instead (“use your words” vs. “don’t hit”)