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Understanding tantrums

Many parents are unsure how to handle a child's tantrums especially if it occurs in public.  The following is an excerpt from Attachment Parenting International (API) on what tantrums are,  the importance of responding not reacting and,  some tips on how to best respond.
Responding to Tantrums and Strong Emotions:

  • Tantrums represent real emotions and as such should be taken seriously
  • Some emotions are too powerful for a young child's underdeveloped brain to manage in a more socially acceptable manner
  • A parent's role in tantrums is to comfort the child, not to get angry or punish her

Responding to the Older Child:

  • Continue to nurture a close connection by respecting the child's feelings and trying to understand the needs underlying his outward behaviors
  • Support explorations by providing a safe environment for discovery and remaining close by
  • Show interest in the child's activities and participate enthusiastically in child-directed play

 For more information and resources on attachment parenting, visit,