The One Trick That Could Help Your Child Mid-Tantrum

A mental health nurse reveals all.
Oscar Wong via Getty Images
If there’s one thing all parents become very well-acquainted with when raising kids, it’s tantrums.
Sometimes they’re over and done with as quickly as they started, while other times they can last for what seems like an eternity – and when you’re out in public, the awkwardness of others watching only adds to the intensity.
If you’re looking for a way to try and calm your child mid-tantrum, a mental health nurse has one trick up her sleeve that just might work. Although, as with anything child-related, it’s not always guaranteed.
Mental health nurse Jennifer Johnson said the trick could help parents avoid embarrassment, particularly in busy airports – and on flights – this summer.

So, what does she suggest?

Temper tantrums are a totally normal part of childhood – especially between the ages of 18 months and four years old.

“Sometimes your child becoming upset in public can’t be avoided. If they do kick off, the first thing is not to worry too much about what other people think,” says Johnson, who works with experts-on-demand service JustAnswer.
Easier said than done, we know. So, what’s the trick? Well, the mental health pro simply recommends asking your child to focus on their breathing.

“Younger children might not understand what you mean by this so tell them to look at their tummy going up and down,” she explains.

The aim is to help your child centre themselves and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

While you might feel anything but positive mid-meltdown, Johnson urges parents to try and remain in a "positive parent mode" and to be supportive of how their child is feeling, rather than shouting or becoming embarrassed and saying something like: “Stop it or else you’ll be punished.”

To do this, she recommends keeping your voice low and smooth. You might also want to take your child somewhere quieter until they’ve settled down.

“When the child is calm, parents can explain why they’re there and remind them there’s something exciting at the end of the flight,” adds Johnson.

Once they’ve calmed, you might also want to say something like: “I am really pleased you are calm now. Thank you for listening to me.”

If your child is older and is being sulky or rude to you, it might be worth considering where this is coming from.

Chances are they’re not deliberately trying to embarrass you, they’re probably tired, unhappy, anxious, upset or maybe even hungry, suggests the expert.