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  • Stop With the Yelling! Here's the Tantrum-Taming Technique That Will Stick

    Validating your child's emotions, whether they're good, bad, or weird, is the first step.
    by Rachel Perez .
Stop With the Yelling! Here's the Tantrum-Taming Technique That Will Stick
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  • When your toddler throws a fit, has a tantrum, becomes too clingy, gets frustrated, or feels sad, don't see it as behavior to correct. Kids can't fully express their emotions at 2 or 3 years old, and crying, shouting, and even biting or hitting are some of the ways they articulate their feelings. They have lots of things to learn and process about the world, the people around them, and themselves.

    Instead of trying to "fix" your kids' feelings, Janet Lansbury, a mom, early childhood expert, and host of the podcast, Respectful Parenting, suggests acknowledging these emotions, a simple act that goes a long way. Here's why it's crucial to your child's development.

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    Don't fight your child's emotions with your own

    When parents do not react, and instead wait and think it over so they can respond appropriately, tension is muted. Let the emotions subside before getting down to business to accomplish anything when your little one is experiencing strong feelings.

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    "Remember that our reasonable limits don’t cause our children’s feelings, but rather provide children the opportunity to release feelings that are already there. Trust this process," Lansbury explained.

    In other words, when you acknowledge your child's feelings, don't fight his emotions with a highly-charged one of yours (one example: yelling). You need to allow time to process it, so your discipline will be well-received and take hold in the future.

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    Accept and validate his emotions — good or bad 

    "Our children’s emotional expressions — no matter how unreasonable, ridiculous or unfair they might seem —need to be okay with us as is for as long as they last. Our acceptance is what allows them to be expressed in a healthy manner," Lansbury advises.

    Kids won't be able to try and get a handle on their emotions or know whether a behavior is appropriate or not if they aren't allowed to have them. It's how they can understand when something is wrong or bad.

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    Having feelings is one thing, but how one expresses it is another. As long as your child isn't hurting other kids or other people or himself, let him ride out his feelings. If your child is a danger to others or himself, quickly remove him from the situation and then talk about his feelings.

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    Use words to validate his feelings

    As soon as he calms down, use it as a teaching opportunity. If you are not sure what to say, telling it as you see it in your child usually works. Here are some examples:

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    • "I can see you are feeling really frustrated right now."
    • "I'm sorry you are feeling so bad."
    • "I could be wrong, but you seem a little worried."
    • "It must have been tough for you to see that."
    • "I know you upset about that."
    • "I would also feel very sad if that was me."
    • "I know you are angry."
    • "I know it's not fun to feel overwhelmed like that."
    • "I'm sorry you are feeling so sad."

    Start with simple words, then work your way towards more complex ones as your child grows. You can also assure your little one that he is loved. You can tell him it will get better, but make sure you patiently wait it out. Saying "It's okay" in an attempt to fast-forward the process may not be of much help if they strongly feel that they're not okay.

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    Accepting your child's emotions show them they are valued

    "Verbalizing acceptance of your child’s emotions is a key to helping her feel loved and understood," explains Meri Wallace, parenting expert, child and family therapist, and author of How to Raise a Happy, Cooperative Child, in Psychology Today. It then helps your child to calm down and stop him from further lashing out.

    Just like adults, kids want to be heard. Sure, not being able to find your little one's favorite pair of socks isn't a big deal — to you. But it is a big deal for your child because he wouldn’t cry over it otherwise. Dismissing what they feel makes them feel they don't matter.

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    Don't worry you're not coddling or spoiling your child. "Acknowledgment is also a way of inviting cooperation," Wallace adds. Saying that you know how he feels doesn't mean there are no consequences to her action. Just like allowing them to make choices, it makes them feel independent and empowered.

    Validating emotions also helps kids develop empathy, self-control, and mindfulness — these skills will help them succeed in life.

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