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Parents' guide - Being with tantrum

Updated: Sep 12

'Tantrum is not to be afraid of (or avoided) ~ it is not knowing how to be with it that scare us.'

We all humans and have wide ranges of emotions with different intensity.

It is like an unknown arena, the more we know about emotions, potential intensity, and our relationship with them, the more comfortable and easy when we are being with them.

If we as parents are not at ease with our emotions, do you think we will be at ease with our children's emotions?


A tantrum is an uncontrolled outburst of intense anger and frustration. It is an expression of overwhelming, and even though you may not believe it, it is also a calling for help from children.

When a tantrum takes place in a child, especially a young child, the pre-frontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) flips and the child goes into the fight-flight-freeze mode (the emotional part of the brain). Nothing is rational, controlled or regulated anymore, only reacting based on instinct for survival. It is almost if the child is trapped in a glass-wall box or she is no longer function rationally until someone finds the key, enters the box to connect and helps him or her to remove the walls (calm down).

Name it to tame it ~

The following techniques may help:

  • slow down the process of tantrum building (if still possible),

  • name the experienced emotion(s)(untangle them if with mixed feelings)

  • stay connected without judgement (offer understanding & empathy, not escalate the emotions further),

  • be on the same side with your child, separate yourself from the tantrum triggers

For example: when I noticed my child (Chloe, 5.5 y.o) was getting frustrated with folding her own clothes, I intervened fairly quickly by saying, 'Wait, slow down, take a breath, what is going on here? I have noticed that you are getting angry whilst folding the clothes (situation), because you have started to throw the clothes around instead of folding them (behaviours).

It is quite a challenge to fold your own clothes, and I remember you did it so well last time. It is very responsible of you to fold your own clothes.' I waited for her responses before offering the next step options like, how can I help you? You did it well before, would you like to try again and show me? Would you like me to show you and we can do it together?

It worked. I showed her how to fold again and we did the folding together happily. It was more than helping her to identify, to be aware of her emotions & related behaviours and to find solutions, we were a team working towards the same goal, not enemies with a power struggle.

By taking time to acknowledge and accept her feelings, she would know that I cared, respected and valued her. She is safe to express her feelings with me anytime.

Here is a video to understand the

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