How to Manage Tantrums/Difficult Behaviors in Children

What are Tantrums?

Tantrums appear at age 2-3 and start to decline by age four & are a common behavior problem in preschool children who may express their anger by lying on the floor, kicking, screaming, and occasionally holding their breath. Tantrums are natural, especially in children who are not yet able to use words to express their frustrations.

Tantrums are sub-conscious in children and are the sub-conscious unfinished business of the mother. They are the raw expression of their subconscious and are unspoken communication.

They typically occur at age 2 to 3 when children are forming a sense of self. The toddler is old enough to have a sense of “me” and “my wants” but is too young to know how to satisfy the want.  They are the result of high energy and low ability to use words to get needs or wants met. Tantrums usually run their course within a year and 23 to 83 % of all 2- to 4-year-olds have temper tantrums at least occasionally.

Most children throw tantrums in a particular place and with a particular person and they are usually a public display after the child has been told “no” to something he/she wants to do. The tantrum usually stops when the child gets his or her wish. The result of the temper tantrum depends on the child’s level of energy and the parent’s level of patience and parenting skill.

Some of the causes of tantrums are related to family dynamics such as inconsistent discipline, criticizing too much, parents being too protective or neglectful, not enough love and attention from parents, problems with the marriage, emotional problems for either parent, sibling rivalry, interference with play, meeting a stranger, having problems with speech, and illness. Other common causes of temper tantrums include being hungry or tired.

Children who have temper tantrums often have other problems like thumb sucking, head banging, bed-wetting and problem sleeping. If these behaviors happen, or if your child has temper tantrums that last more than 15 minutes or occur three or more times a day at younger than 1 or older than 4 years of age discuss with the family physician or other appropriate health professional.

Sometimes temper tantrums in preschool children are the beginning of patterns that lead to children becoming increasingly disobedient and aggressive, as they grow older. Research has shown a complex pattern that includes parental problems, having trouble managing children’s behavior, poor boundaries & rejection of child by peers and parents.

What is behind the tantrum?

What does he or she want and is not getting? The reasons children have temper tantrums vary: to get attention, someone to listen, to be loved, protest not getting their way, not doing something they do not want to do, punish a parent for going away, for power, for revenge, from fear of abandonment, etc.

Parents who are sensitive to the child’s needs see what is actually happening. For example, a child wants mother to feed him/her and behind this the parent can see that the child really wants to be taken care of (take care of me). The mother with sensibility will say – “I am feeding you now.”

Mother’s Position

If the mother is ungrounded and has tantrums, the child represents/gives shape to her sub-conscious. Children are like sponges and pick up the energy of the mother, as they want to please and obey.

Parents command children through behavior not through words. Parents are a role model to their children and the children are mirrors to the parents.  If we tell the child to do this or that constantly (rules +), too much order will spoil the child. E.g. keep your feet down, don’t touch this etc…  These are irrelevant orders and too much order spoils the children. Children want to give to others.

Parents can impose their own rules or stay in their own personal power, managing their response. Your relationship with your child/children is the closest relationship. It is important to see the values of your children and respect their uniqueness.

Effective parenting involves disciplining without the use of punishment, threats, yelling etc. The idea of punishment is deeply engrained in our psyches and culture so the punishment model is used in parenting i.e. make the child pay for undesirable behavior in order to learn from it.

Parents can teach children to make better choices through internal controls rather than external ones. The parent’s role is to teach them to make good choices for the right reasons instead of making choices to avoid getting into trouble or receive punishment.

Respect, kindness, gentleness and firmness are the key words to discipline effectively without punishment. This allows the child to feel capable, good and in his/her own power.  This approach may take more time and energy, yet, results in the development of healthy self-esteem and happy balanced children.

Guidelines for Parents

We need to treat children as individuals and to free them from the constraints of our expectations.  It is important to create a space for them to accept their own uniqueness.  Teachers and parents can transmit the sense of goodness and uniqueness in a loving and constant way.  The gift to future generations is to be guilt free.

Adults often transmit a false sense of life to children, i.e. that things are constant and safe, lasting forever. They need to feel solid to handle everything that comes their way by flowing with life.  Children need to experience all the colors of life to be complete, real and compassionate.

1. Learn to deal with your own and others’ anger.

The place is to begin with our selves. When parents discipline out of anger or with expectations that are inappropriate for the age of their child, they often make mistakes in the way they react. When we feel calm, we can model effective anger and conflict management.

2. Distract or redirect the child.

When a child is misbehaving, a calm parent can sometimes re-direct the child’s behavior.

3. Be prompt and brief with discipline.

One technique you can use is to pick up and remove your small child from the room immediately and isolate him or her for two to five minutes. This also gives you time to get in control of your emotions. Lecturing is not necessary and use consistency in enforcing rules, especially with older school-age children. Example: “I’m putting you in your room for ‘time out’ until you calm down and are ready to talk again.”

4. Discover the reason for your child’s anger or temper tantrum.

Let the child know the behavior is unacceptable. Talk calmly. Example: “Now that we’re out of the store and we’ve both had a chance to calm down, let’s talk. I think you were mad at me that I said no to buy a new toy you wanted. Is that right?”

5. Avoid shaming your child about being angry.

Children in healthy families are allowed to express all their feelings, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. They are not criticized or punished for having and expressing feelings appropriately, including anger.

6. Teach children about levels of anger, becoming friendly with their feelings

By using different words to describe the intensity of angry feelings (e.g., annoyed, aggravated, irritated, frustrated, angry, furious, enraged), children as young as 2 1/2 can learn to understand that anger is a complex emotion with different levels of energy.  Example: “I was annoyed when you were late for the drive to school.”

7. Set clear limits and expectations according to child’s age, abilities, and temperament.

As parents, we will be angry all the time if we expect our 1-year-old to be toilet -trained our 2-year-old to use 5-year-old words rather than have a temper tantrum, our shy 8-year-old to be the leader in a game. Example: “While I want you to know it’s OK to feel angry, it’s not OK to hit others!” “I expect you to control your anger without hitting, biting or spitting. Show children that they need to be respectful of others.

8. Compliment and reward appropriate behavior.

Teaching your child to do the right things is better than always punishing bad behavior. Children who get attention only for bad behavior tend to repeat those behaviors because they learn that is the best way to get parents attention, especially if parents tend to be overly strict.

9. Maintain open communication with your child.

Listen to your child’s concerns about rules at school/home and explain the reasons for the rules in words your child can understand.

10. Teach understanding and empathy.

Invite the child to see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

11.    Special family time to connect without authority

Doing a family activity together in a different space provides a fun quality connection without authority. Parents and children are exchanging energies and connecting at a different level that may be missing in the family because of commitments, a busy life, etc.  Doing family yoga as an example, gives children the tools to learn how to deal with inner conflict, to sleep better, to be fully in their bodies, etc.

Children do not need to be yogis. We want them to have fun as they live and understand themselves.  Children love to be engaged and with these tools will be more secure, have better connections with themselves, with others and do better in school.

YOGA TIPS to manage your children in the classroom/ home

Here are some yoga tips for discipline/focus to improve learning, techniques to release children’s emotions without a big drama and breathing exercises to relax your class.

The teacher sets the tone

To promote discipline, your voice and presence is very important.  Use a mixture of discipline and fun.  If children are not attentive, lower your voice, whisper and start the lesson with a story using a prop such as a picture, a stuffed animal, etc.

Cross-crawl exercises

To promote focus, have your students do some cross-crawl exercises to balance the two sides of the brain so they can focus better and be present in the class.  Have them raise their hands up over their heads and move them in circles in opposite directions. Encourage them as they do this and tell them to take deep breaths at the same time, reaching up to the sky like tall sunflowers.

Patty cakes

Help children connect to each other by having them do patty cakes.  This is a great warm-up exercise that promotes co-ordination, balance and rhythm. 

Anger release exercise

To relieve tantrums, have children lie on their backs, hitting the floor with open palms for about 30 seconds. Have them do the same thing with their legs for 30 seconds and then all together so the whole body is moving. This is an appropriate exercise to help children release anger and it can benefit the whole class to manage excess energy and to release emotions especially when children are feeling hyper.

Breathing exercises for relaxation

To relax your class, do some breathing exercises with them. The two-part breath is great to do first thing in the morning when you start class as it clears and balances the mind.  Have the children inhale in two parts then exhale in two equal parts. Continue for three minutes. Encourage them to relax and breathe in and out from their bellies. At the end, ask them to inhale and exhale deeply through both nostrils. 


In easy pose with index fingers covering their ears have children hum, imaging a busy bee and hum for one or two minutes. This relaxes their system and helps them to go inward and encourages brain development.

These are just a few sample tools that will help you keep your class or child happy, energized and relaxed.  Best of all, you will keep your stamina all day long.

The Club Yoga Tantrum Workshop is offered regularly and will help you see your own parenting patterns and to learn more about yourself as a parent, your child’s unique qualities and you will also practice tools that will help manage tantrums.

For more information contact Anamda at or call 613-228-9235 & visit the website at


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