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Family & Parenting
April 10, 2023
How to Keep Your Cool While Your Child Loses Theirs

Caitlin Sigouin

A young boy with curly hair wearing a grey long sleeve shirt having a tantrum with hands up by his head

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How to Navigate Children’s Tantrums so That You Don’t Have One Too

Tantrums. We’ve all been there as parents. I remember very well the time I gave my 3-year-old some cut-up apples in a blue bowl (because blue was his favourite colour and the blue bowl was the right bowl earlier in the day). Only now this was not the right choice and we had tears starting and an escalating little voice telling me “I DON’T WANT THE BLUE BOWL!!”. It’s so easy as parents to lose our patience in these moments. It can feel overwhelming and we may become frustrated, yell at our child, and silently begin to question our competence as a parent.

Try to remember that tantrums are a normal stage of development and not a reflection of you as a parent. Big emotions can be scary for kids too and our role as parents is not to take away their emotions or stop the tantrums, but to help guide them through these moments by building up their capacity to manage these big emotions. Our children learn what to do in these moments by watching how we cope.

So what are some things that we can do in these moments to keep our calm?

  1. Microbreaks: Surprisingly even just opening up the front door, looking up at the sky and taking a big deep breathe can help us to reset and recharge a bit

  2. Ask for help when needed: Carrying the mental load of all the childcare tasks is exhausting. Ask your partner, extended family and/or friends to help with tasks. Maybe they are unable to assist with childcare but maybe they can help with cleaning or running errands.

  3. Take time for yourself away from your kids: If a big chunk of time isn’t manageable try for smaller bits - like having someone watch the kids for a half hour while you go for a walk or conversely having someone take them for a walk while you sip that still-warm coffee at home.

  4. Connect with others to reduce our isolation: Other parents especially ones in similar stages can be so helpful. To feel heard, do activities with and support each other through the same stages.

  5. Going to therapy: Having a neutral person listen to and guide us through our journey can be so helpful.

And if we do lose our cool? Apologize and take responsibility for losing it. “I’m sorry for yelling. Mommy was feeling frustrated and yelled.” Try to give yourself some compassion, you’re human and it’s okay for our children to see us that way. It helps our children learn that it’s okay to make mistakes and also role models how to move forward after a big emotional outburst.


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