Managing tantrums

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Managing tantrums

TANTRUM. It’s the scariest word in the dictionary for parents. Imagine strolling happily in a mall and then you pass a candy booth. Your 2-year-old points excitedly to the colourful candy on display. His face lights up and he starts jumping. But you know you’re not going to buy him anything.

It’s too sweet AND expensive. You also don’t want to set a precedent, a dangerous one at that. You firmly say “no” and as expected, the little guy starts screaming, pulling and kicking. Everyone stops what they’re doing and starts staring at your family.

Does that sound familiar? You can avoid tantrums if you know how to address the root cause. A child who throws a tantrum is using his power against you. He knows that if he cries long enough or does something radical enough, his parents will eventually give in. He would start small and win small first. Then, he’d make the big move for a bigger win.

We need to nip this kind of thing in the bud. At the root is our ability to recognise the various reasons for the crying and knowing how to react to them accordingly. Let’s analyse the most common types of cries and how to react to them.


The Hungry Cries: This is a genuine type of cry. Recall her last feeding time. Test by feeding a little food. Go ahead and feed her if she’s eager for the food.

The Uncomfortable Cries: Check her diaper, clothes or surrounding areas. Does her diaper need to be changed? Are her clothes wet? Is her surrounding too hot, too cold, safe and comfortable? Once you take the necessary actions, the crying should stop.

The Tired Cries: Check when her last nap time was. Put her to sleep or for a nap in the crib. Wait for five minutes to see if she falls asleep. If that doesn’t happen, then take her out of the crib and distract her with new activities until she’s ready for the nap.

The In Pain Cries: This one is easy to recognise as the cry is immediate and sudden. Drop everything you do and attend to her immediately.

The Scared/ Lonely/Bored Cries: Check the surroundings for signs. Distract or move her to a new place. Then, give her new toys to play with.

The “No Reason” Cries: This is the killer one. It’s the beginning of a “power-play” to see you buckle. Don’t give in as it will give her the “small wins”. Be loving but firmly explain why you cannot give in. Do it consistently and soon enough, she’ll know that you’re a tough cookie and she’ll abandon this tactic.

Suffice it to say, it would take some time before you can distinguish the various types of crying. But nobody knows your child like you do. For some unknown reason, you’ll know the difference. The key is to be able to recognise the different needs and take the appropriate action.

Soon, you’ll become so good at it that you would be able to halt the drama before it even starts! Don’t ever give in to the “No Reason” cries as that’s the root cause of a spoilt child. If you can tackle this well, you can look forward to “tantrum-free” days for life!

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