Toddler tantrums

Emotional outpourings of kids indeed offer an opportunity to learn gentle parenting, but there is always a thin line beyond which parents should worry

Toddler tantrums

My 3-year-old son was a calm, playful toddler but has recently started to have meltdowns in public. Recently I refused to buy him a candy in the market, and he spent 15 minutes crying, thrashing his legs lying down on the floor in front of strangers. I was embarrassed and concerned. Is this normal? What should I do if it happens again?

Temper tantrums are unpleasant and disruptive behaviours or emotional outbursts of children. These are frustrating for parents to deal with, but should be looked upon as an opportunity to learn and form a bond of gentle parenting with the child.

Toddlers are at the interesting crossroads where they want independence and control over their environment, and yet crave for comfort and nurture from their parents. Plus, their verbal skills aren't adept enough yet to express themselves. This conflict leads to release of emotions as a temper tantrum.

Temper tantrums are mostly seen when kids are hungry, sleepy, bored, frustrated, wanting attention or their demands are not met with. Tantrum isn't intentional per se but, over a period of time, children can learn this behavior if their tantrum is always rewarded with attention or meeting of demands.

When to worry and when not to worry?

Like it or not, but kids can show a variety of presentations during a tantrum, like whining, crying, shouting, kicking, hitting, punching, flailing arms and legs, biting, grinding teeth, tensing their bodies, and going limp and even holding their breath.

As a parent you should worry about the child's welfare and see a doctor if the tantrums persist after four years of age and are getting worse; if your child hurts themselves or someone else grievously during the tantrum; faints due to holding their breath; has symptoms like frequent headaches, stomach aches, anxiety; and if you are unable to handle the tantrums due to your own anger outbursts.

What is gentle parenting?

Gentle parenting is all about the method where parents work on regulating their own emotions while embracing the needs of their child. It means parenting with empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries. After all, the only way to regulate your child's emotions is by learning to self-regulate your own emotions first and giving unconditional love to yourself and your child.

How to handle a temper tantrum?


❋ Stay calm

❋ Find a distraction

❋ Ignore the tantrum

❋ Keep them in sight and safe


Discuss in a calm headspace about the unmet need and the reaction with your toddler.

❋ Offer praise for calming down

❋ Acknowledge their feelings

❋Teach your child to label emotions

❋ Teach your child how to handle strong emotions

❋ Set a good example by handling your frustrations well


❋ Give choices

❋ Prepare for transitions like going to a new place or new changes in life

❋ Check food and sleep periodically

What not to do

❋ Give Give in, or change your mind to the demands just to avoid the tantrum and embarrassment.

❋ Hit, bite or kick back your child.

Book recommendation

No-Drama Discipline by

Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The Gentle Parenting Book: How to Raise Calmer, Happier Children from Birth to Seven by Sarah Ockwell-Smith.

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