Effective Strategies for Managing Child Tantrums | Butterfly Learnings

Date of Publishing:   

20 July, 2023


Behavioral Challenges



Prevent tantrums using these 8 simple strategies!

Tantrums in children are something which every parent experiences. It happens because the child may lack skills to communicate the tough emotions, which are too hard to handle. The behaviors that we notice are: crying, whining, screaming, hitting others or self, kicking, biting, pushing, throwing objects, etc. 

Suppose, after teaching some alphabets to the child, you want him to learn numbers but he is tired and is not interested; he starts crying. 

Parents want this behavior to stop for reasons like it's overwhelming for them and it's painful to see the child distressed and crying. Coming to the most important aspect, how to reduce the child's tantrums and how to calm him and make him feel safe? 

When it comes to handling a child's tantrum, there are two main approaches:

  • Short-Term Tantrum Reduction Strategies.
  • Long-Term Tantrum Reduction Strategies.

Short-term strategies are focused on managing the immediate situation.

Long-term strategies are aimed at preventing tantrums from occurring in the first place. 

3 short-term strategies to handle tantrums

Short-term strategies for handling tantrums usually involve methods that help to calm down the child. This may include providing reinforcement immediately, providing comfort and reassurance, and teaching them the alternative skill later when they are relaxed and comfortable. 

Here are 3 Short-term strategies to reduce a child's tantrums. 

1) Reinforce immediately

If the child continues to cry or scream, then use the wise and logical option available. Give the child what he wants, so it helps him to calm down. Do this only once when the behavior occurs for the first time.

2) Try to calm down the child

When the tantrums grow intense, the child enters the meltdown zone. At that time, if parents shout or threaten to punish the child, it triggers a fight-or-flight response in the child and it scares him. 

Try calming down the child instead. Give him a long firm hug. It conveys to him he is safe & he can trust you. 

As we know, the child doesn't have skills to cope with such emotions. As parents, it's our job to teach children how to deal with these situations in a positive way. Do not try to teach the child when he is in the meltdown zone. At that time, the child needs your love and support.

3) Teach the child when he is relaxed and comfortable

Later at home, first and foremost, appreciate the child for calming down, then talk about what happened and tell him what you saw. In fact, this is the right time to teach him alternate skills. 

Start working on skills like waiting, tolerance and other skills. These strategies reduce the tantrum temporarily.

These strategies can be effective in the short term. But they may not address the underlying causes of the tantrums and may not prevent these challenging behaviors from occurring in the future.

8 long-term strategies to handle tantrums

When it comes to parenting, we, as parents, teach ourselves various strategies about what to do if a child is having a tantrum. These come handy in calming him down.


There comes a time when we think "How can we teach our kiddo to handle tantrums independently?"


Long-term strategies focus on teaching children the skills that they need to regulate their emotions and behavior. 

It's a collaborative process. You and your child have to work on it together. He will learn the skills of regulating his emotions and eventually his tantrums will reduce if you apply these 8 Long-Term Strategies:

1) Prepare the child

When you figure out the triggering event that makes your child upset, try to avoid it from next time onwards. For example, instead of turning off the TV, tell the child five minutes before "TV time will be over in 5 minutes. We will turn it off."


2) Allow your child to take his favourite items

If you are leaving for an errand and it's necessary for your child to accompany you or you cannot leave him alone at home, allow the child to take his favourite toy or packet of snacks that keeps him engaged while you finish your work.


3) Plan your day, but allow flexibility

Tell the child "what we'll do today" or create a routine. Emphasize on sticking to it. This eliminates all the surprises and it will become easier for the child to follow a schedule.


Please be flexible sometimes. Suppose a child really likes a toy, he asks nicely, and it's inexpensive, then you can buy it.


4) Good rest and full belly makes all the difference

Make sure the child is well-rested and well-fed, so a minor incident doesn't ignite tantrums.


Similarly, when both of you are outside and you know he is tired or hungry, it'll be wise not to squeeze in one more errand.


 5) Give the child options

Present options for the child. This lets him know that he has control over some aspects of life. For example, let him choose whether he wants to learn alphabets or numbers.


 6) Choose your battles carefully

You can be lenient sometimes for small things that have no urgency. If your child is asking for an extra 15 minutes for play time, letting him stack blocks will be better than listening to him whine for the next 30 minutes.


 7) Teach alternate ways of expressing emotions

Encourage your child to put their emotions into words. When he uses words and talks to you, that's the healthy way of expressing his frustration, disappointment, sadness, etc.


Breathing works well with some kids. For others, it might be visual cards. By using them they can communicate "I want a break", "Let's go out", "Let's do this task later", etc.


These ways can help you establish a connection with your child and he will learn to trust you.


8) Reinforce the child for handling the behavior

When the child battled the challenging behaviors, he chose not to cry and stayed calm. This is a marvelous feat! Say "You did a wonderful job" or anything that counts as the highest degree of appreciation in your lingo.


Ask the child "He can get whatever he wants". This can be the most powerful reinforcement because the child learns that his efforts are worth it! From this point onwards, he'll try his best to continue these good behaviors in the future.


In the end, both short-term and long-term strategies can be effective in handling tantrums, but their purposes are different. Short-term strategies focus on handling the situation immediately. Whereas long-term strategies are aimed at preventing tantrums from occurring in the first place. By combining both approaches, parents and caregivers can help their children learn to regulate their emotions and behavior in a healthy and effective way. 

Behavior intervention plan for tantrums

Applied Behavior Analysis has shown to be a highly effective method for reducing tantrums and other challenging behaviors in children. It teaches children new skills and behaviors that help them communicate their unmet needs through words and gestures, which is more effective than tantrums.

ABA also emphasizes positive reinforcement and rewards for desired behaviors, which increases the child's motivation to engage in these behaviors over time. 

If you're struggling to handle your child's tantrums and want to see positive changes, consider enrolling them in ABA Therapy. With its evidence-based techniques and individualized approach, ABA has helped many children learn new behaviors and reduce tantrums. 

Butterfly Learnings is a qualified ABA provider. Contact us today and learn more about how we can help your child and family.

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