Tantrums & Meltdowns

co-regulation startegies

Tantrums & Meltdowns

This time of year brings favorite traditions, extra family gatherings, and so many good things. Unfortunately, it can also shake up a child’s routines and set the stage for some spectacular meltdowns at the worst times and places. All children get cranky and overwhelmed – it happens. For kids, we know that tantrum-level emotions = zero reasoning ability. Their brains are, essentially, turned off in that moment. Luckily, this is only temporary! 

Here are some tips for getting through the crisis: 

  • Try to not take behaviors personally or “match” your child’s behavior – their anger does not have to be yours! Your job is to be a calm, neutral force in the chaos.
  • If possible, move your child to a quieter space and stay close. 
  • Practice co-regulating strategies out loud until your child is ready to try with you. Other than describing what you are doing or saying “copy me,” avoid talking too much.


  • Cozy hugs/touch
  • Deep breathing
  • Having a snack
  • Naming feelings
  • Hug a stuffed animal
  • Counting
  • Stretching
  • Yoga poses
  • Jumping jacks
  • Pushing against a wall
  • Drawing a picture
  • Waiting

If nothing seems to be working, just wait quietly. 

The time for talking and debriefing is later.  When brains and bodies are calm again, you can talk about what happened and ways to feel more in control next time. In the meantime, rejoin the fun and congratulate yourself on keeping your cool and navigating the storm! 


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