A Guide To Handling Tantrums And Meltdowns

Child behavior, an essential factor to understand and note when a person, such as you, begins parenting. As joyful and humbling it may be, it can also be quite overwhelming and frustrating when your child starts throwing a tantrum or having a breakdown due to something that you just can’t put your finger on, then to resolve this issue the parent tends to give their child whatever they want which isn’t the right thing to do at that point as it, in turn, just spoils the child.

Even though meltdowns and tantrums may seem like the same behavioral displays, they are very different and are easily determinable from each other. Tantrums are more physical and they are usually triggered when a child’s want or desire for something is not granted. Children use these more often in their early stages when they are toddlers or are just in their learning stages of life as they don’t know how to express these emotions to their parents. However, as they learn how to communicate and display their emotions properly, these tantrums and fuss they create should diminish in quantity.

But what is the cause of these tantrums? Well, they can vary from the simplest of things like wanting a certain food item or a toy, to wanting their parent’s attention or something very dear to them like their favorite plushie. Now when the parent supplies the child with what they want, the child sees this as a technique to gain certain leverage and uses this every time they want something.  

If not dealt with in the early stages of life the children become prone to this habit of expressing their emotions explicitly in ways that aren’t quite appropriate and considered immature for their age.   If they don’t score a goal, or as mentioned earlier, they want their parent’s attention because their sibling is getting more than them, they tend to get infuriated rather quickly and lash out, this may even cause harm to themselves or others and things. Sometimes, the child also checks if the parent is looking at them or if they are occupied so that they can get what they want as the parent would want to keep them quiet as they are busy. They will do this until they get what they want or they realize that it’s useless to throw a tantrum as it won’t get them what they want.

To ensure that, from a young age, your child knows how to control his/her emotions and express themselves clearly, you can start by telling them that their tantrums won’t affect anything and just waste energy. You can do this by acknowledging what they want but not giving them it. By doing this you will show your child that there is a better way to act, which is more politely and maturely when they need something hence, the child will behave properly the next time they want something.and in future instances. As horrifying as this is, tantrums aren’t always the case your child is acting out in inappropriate ways. They may be suffering a meltdown. It’s quite easy to stop and prevent these from happening but to know how…you must know why.

Why do meltdowns occur all of a sudden even when the child isn’t diagnosed with a mental disorder or any pressure from someone or something?  

Well, it’s more complex than that, meltdowns are involuntary, they can be described as neurological reactions, usually occurring when the sensory organs of the child’s body are being overwhelmed so much that their brain can’t handle the quantity of input it is being sent, hence, causing a meltdown. For example; a huge crowd might trigger a meltdown, too much noise, an event they are looking forward to, too many thoughts to process, even a new taste which they don’t like a new development for their infant’s brain.

In most instances, when children have meltdowns, their brain is just trying to process all the various inputs that are being received by every sensory organ they have. This isn’t only seen in child behavior; even adults react to this too but have a lower tendency to have these meltdowns. Think of it in this way, in your point of you, if you need to work on something, but there is a ton of noise around you, people are touching you, you can smell the food and drinks while you are trying to focus on your screen. Sounds agitating and that’s exactly how it is for your child, they just have too much input being given to them for them to handle and process it all.

However, there is an easy way to de-escalate this situation and help your child to return to normal; reduce the cause of it, if there is too much noise, you can turn the volume down or cover their ears, if they are reacting to high intensity of light, you can turn off some of the lights in the house or room or shade their eyes as sufficiently as possible. But what if you don’t know what is causing this meltdown? Easy! The best thing to do in this scenario is to isolate your child from chaotic, bright and disturbing areas so that they don’t feel claustrophobic or stressed. You should just take them to a place that’s calm, maybe their room or a quiet room in the area, and help them relax as much as possible, ease them down and talk to them so that they are comforted, and soon, the meltdown will stop.

A parent needs to identify the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown. Equipping themselves with this knowledge helps them reduce stress for themselves and the child as it helps reduce the reaction time and eliminates the worrying phase of “what to do now”. It can, however, be worrying when your child acts out in public as you fear other’s reaction, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, these reactions are normal and instinctual, but it would be better if both, you and your child, knew how to react in these situations so that it can be dealt with properly and everyone is happy by the end of the day; you, your child, and the public.  




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Written by HealthStatus Crew
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus teams with authors from organizations to share interesting ideas, products and new health information to our readers.

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