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Temper tantrum: How to stop the meltdowns

How do you stop a temper tantrum? This is so tough. We have 3 kids 4 and under. Tantrums, breakdowns, and meltdowns are all common. But there are tricks to break the tantrums. All of the tricks have the same theme. You can’t break the meltdown! But they can. Help them.

Break the laser focus. That’s the goal. Our emotions grow at a different rate than our reasoning and our bodies. This creates a disconnect. Keep that in mind. The kid doesn’t want to lose control of themselves. They don’t want you mad at them and yelling at them to control themselves. Realize this and slow down the situation. Curb your reaction to the tantrum and focus on helping them learn how to control themselves.

Logic won’t break the tantrum. Explaining to them why they are being unreasonable will not help. What will help is triggering a different part of their brain. You can not reason them free.

So how do you stop a temper tantrum?

Realize there is over-stimulation.

When a tantrum is happening there is a lot going on in the kids brain. Emotions are firing fast too. They can not control the disconnect between the two. There is a lightning storm going on in their brain. Help them.

  • Remove the child from the situation.
  • Reset. Find the reset button.
  • Try to stimulate a different part of the brain.
  • Encourage the child do use different tricks

Remove the child from the situation that caused the temper tantrum

Sometimes this is all it takes. Physically remove them from the situation. It will still take a few minutes for them to calm down, but this helps them lose focus of what they were focused on. It also shifts their focus to the new area.

Try to stimulate a different part of the brain

Depending on the age, say things like this is red, when pointing to something blue. Or say 5 + 3 is 9. Often times no matter how bad the tantrum is this creates confusion. They can’t unhear what they just heard. It shifts the thought process from whatever they are focused on to, “wait, what did dad just say. That’s not right is it? No, it can’t be.” They forget what they are focused on. All that over stimulus that was occurring shifts to logic. This works well in our house.

Encourage the child to use different tricks to self regulate

Our son’s school actually taught him different tricks.

  • S.T.A.R. – Smile Take a breath Relax
  • The pretzel
  • The drain
  • The balloon

This video covers all four. The point is there are different activities that the child can focus on to control and reset themselves. This seemed ridiculous to me at first, but it worked. It especially worked when combining it with trying to stimulate different parts of the brain. If I (intentionally) did one of the tricks wrong it would create confusion, which reset the brain. Works wonderfully.

Be a Role Model

You are a role model. Be a role model. It’s hard not to mirror your child’s behavior, especially why they are having a tantrum. Don’t do it. Fight your anger and frustration. Be the eye of the storm. Be calm, and assure them that you are going help them get through the tantrum. Tell them that meltdowns are normal for kids there age, and you are there to help them figure it out. Be their rock.

Bottom line to stopping a temper tantrum

Being a parent is hard. It is a roller coaster of emotions. When your child is having a temper tantrum try to curb your reaction to it. Don’t be gas on the fire. Realize what is happening and help the child. You can not force them out in any healthy way. But you can help them help themselves. This is such an important thing to do as a dad. Teach your child how to be self aware, self sustaining, and have self control. You can do this. Just slow things down.

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