Your heart beats faster, your breathing increases and your mind is racing as you observe your child’s behavior escalate towards a tantrum. How do you keep calm?

The ability to self-calm is among the greatest life skills your child will learn. She will use it to cope with changes, to manage friendships, schoolwork and other stressors into adolescence and beyond.

You want to harness the opportunity to build your child’s self-calming skills and having strategies to do so will help you keep calm too!

Toddler having a tantrum
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar from Pexels
  • Make sure you are attending to your own self-care so that you are able to keep calm
  • Have designated “time in” with your child throughout the week; this will prevent him from tantrumming to get your attention
  • Have a daily “check-in” and each talk about one thing that went well and one thing that was tricky; this builds verbal skills to replace tantrums
  • Have an identified “cozy space” at home that your child has designed with blankets, pillows and other soothing items. Talk together about how this is a good space to have a “break” when he needs space to calm his body down.
  • When your child is becoming elevated, breathe deeply and slowly to keep yourself calm
  • Move your body at a slower speed
  • Speak calmly & quietly
  • Don’t try to problems solve; your child cannot “hear” you when she is in an elevated state
  • Use a tone that lets your child know you understand how upset he is and his feelings are important
  • Know there is no short-cut; you want to support your child to move through her big feelings (see ‘Train Analogy’ Article below)
  • Keep your child’s body and your body safe
  • If you are in a public place, as you move your child to a quiet spot, narrate aloud to give those around you context for his behavior “oh, you’ve had such a big day and this is too much; we are almost done and then time to go home”
  • Later, when your child is calm, talk about the “tricky” event. Ask about what helped her body to calm and what didn’t. Help your child tweak her self-calming plan☺

Article: Use The ‘Train Analogy’ To Help You Deal With Your Kid’s Tantrums (

Originally published in Maui Family Magazine.