4 Steps for Reducing Tantrums

Category: Play Therapy


4 Steps For Reducing Tantrums

By Jennifer Hector, LMFT



Our first response to getting our kids to calm down is often aimed at stamping out their large reactions, to insist that they stop crying, to tell them they are being ridiculous and to ask them why they would behave in such a way.  When asked about the effectiveness of this approach, parents report that it isn’t working and seems to make it worse. It is natural to be alarmed by out children’s intense reactions and to want to get them to stop immediately especially if they can be a harm to themselves or others. And when meltdowns are reoccurring they are incredibly draining, disruptive and stressful for the whole family.


In Dr. Jed Baker’s pointed book, “No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for managing and preventing out-of-control behavior,” he presents a 4 step proactive approach to changing the meltdown madness. In a nutshell, the 4 step program consists of the following:


  1. Accept and Empathize– Adjust your expectations
  • Parents work to understand their own temper and adjust their behavior thus helping kids learn how to manage their behavior
  • Help build competence and trust through positive, successful interactions to reduce frustration
  • Avoid recurrent power struggles


  1. De-escalate the meltdown
  • Use distraction artfully to manage the moment of unexpected meltdowns
  • Temporary crisis tools vs. prevention plan


  1. Understand the reoccurring patterns
  • What type of events are involved?
  • Role of others reactions to the meltdown
  • Predicting and avoiding meltdowns


  1. Create child-specific prevention plans to prevent meltdowns
  • Four types of meltdown situations
  • Components of a good prevention plan (change triggers, teach skills, reward/loss systems, biological/physical strategies)


Through case studies, detailed suggestions, behavioral therapy strategies, life experience and practical plans, Dr. Baker encourages parents, teachers, therapists and caregivers to become more aware, informed and hopeful in supporting kids through our own behavior and strategies that promote more resilience, success and resourceful coping behaviors.