8 eye-opening lessons we learned about tantrums in 2017

1. Kids physically cannot calm down during a tantrum

8 eye-opening lessons we learned about tantrums in 2017

Tantrums are one of the most challenging parts of being a parent...and a child. It’s so hard for everyone involved.

Luckily, our experts shared some amazing insights and awesome advice this year. Here’s what we learned:

1. Kids physically cannot calm down during a tantrum

The connection between the reactive, impulsive part of a child’s brain and the part that is able to think logically and calmly is still forming—so it is next to impossible for them to calm down during a tantrum. (It can be pretty hard for adults too!)

Christoper Willard writes, “Helping them settle down from a tantrum to engage their wise mind takes wisdom, compassion, and plenty of patience on our part.”


For more, check out This is why your child can’t actually ‘calm down’ during a tantrum.

2. Validate their feelings

To a grown-up, an epic melt-down over the blue cup instead of the red cup seems crazy—but to a 2-year-old, it’s everything. Instead of trying to rationalize with a very sad toddler, validate the way they feel and let them know you understand what’s making them so mad.

Read 5 ways to help your toddler manage change—minus the tantrum.

3. Tantrums are actually healthy for kids

Research has shown that suppressing powerful emotions can lead to increased stress, while acknowledging and being present with them can lead to more emotional well-being. So instead of making our children move past these big feelings quickly, we can teach them to sit with them—we’ll all benefit in the long run.

For more, read Allowing kids to embrace big emotions is good parenting—and it’s science.

3. Empathetic consequences are okay

Christine Skoutelas writes, “The to balance the tenderness with some toughness. Just because I’m showing my daughter that I understand how she feels doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions when she goes around striking everything and everyone in her path like an angry little hornet.

Even though you’re upset, you know you can’t kick Mom in the shins. That hurts. When we act like that, we don’t get everything we want. So, because you kicked, we’re not going to be able to watch Cinderella today.’ I pick something that is easily enforceable because I don’t want this consequence to be a punishment for me.”

To learn more read Why empathy is the best response to toddler tantrums.

4. Some tantrums can be avoided by preparing kids for the day’s schedule

Ashley Thurn says, “This is, hands down, my number one recommendation for minimizing tantrums. If you don’t remember any other steps, remember this—tell them what’s on the agenda for the day.

“Tell them specific things about the environment they’re about to walk into. If you’re going grocery shopping, fill them in on what you’re there to buy and what you’re NOT there to buy. If you normally go to the playground after school but today you can't because you have to pick up dry cleaning, tell your child about this change in routine ahead of time. Car rides are a great place to review these changes since you have a captive audience.”

For more tips on tantrum prevention, visit 9 ways to avoid a tantrum—YES, it’s possible!

5. Time-outs don’t work

Instead, says Ariadne Brill, try a time-in. “This is almost like a timeout, with one important change—you stay with your child in time in and support them until they have calmed down.

“A time in can be customized to your child’s temperament and your needs, where you can sit together on the couch, simply take a moment to hug and talk or walk away from a difficult situation to a different place altogether.

“The goal of a time in is to help your child feel safe, calm and ready to listen to your guidance.”

To read more about time-ins, see Why timeouts make tantrums + power struggles worse.

6. Offering compassion does not reward a tantrum—you dont have to ignore your child

Rebecca Eanes says, “Connection is one of our most basic human needs. We all long to feel heard, validated, loved, accepted and attached, not only when we are our best selves, but also when we are our worst selves. Imagine a spouse, partner, or friend withdrawing their attention and warmth from you because you are crying, upset and in emotional distress.

“What would it do for your relationship? How would it affect your emotional state? Now imagine that these people gave you a shoulder to cry on, listened as you communicated your frustration or sadness, and then, even if they couldn’t solve your problem for you, they said “I’m here for you.” Now ask yourself those same two questions.

“Compassion is not a reward—it is the heart of relationships.”

To learn more about offering compassion during a tantrum, read Ignoring your toddler’s tantrum doesn’t work, but showing compassion does.

7. Try this brain-game

“Next time your little one gets overwhelmed and can’t calm down, try this simple method:

  1. Get their attention. Ask if they want to play a fun game and show them you’re excited too.
  2. Give them a challenge like finding five things of the same color in the room, naming their three favorite toys/foods/books, naming three things they can touch, hear or see, or doing a simple addition or subtraction problem.
  3. Once they’ve calmed down and have completed the challenge, take the time to connect with them further. Talk through what they were feeling and how you can solve it together. You can then hopefully go about what you were trying to do.”

For more on this idea, read Help your kids calm down with this simple brain game.

8. You are allowed to be a human, too

It’s so hard to remain calm when our children are melting down—and that’s okay. You are a human with emotions too! If you lose your temper, take a breath, and then tell your child you’re sorry. They’ll learn so much from you in that moment. Be gentle on yourself.

Check out This therapist mom’s secret to dealing with tantrums ✔️ .

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less

What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

Keep reading Show less