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Mind & Mood

How to respond to tantrums

May 22, 2020

About the Author

photo of Jacqueline Sperling, PhD

Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, Contributor

Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, faculty at Harvard Medical School, and the cofounder and co-program director of the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program at McLean Hospital. She is also the author of the young adult nonfiction book … See Full Bio
View all posts by Jacqueline Sperling, PhD


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Kasia Ciszewski
May 21, 2020

I liked your suggestion for using the conjunction ‘and’, while also avoiding the word ‘but’ when validating the child’s feelings. It’s also good for a child to learn the name of these emotions. Teaching them that anger is ok and that there is an effective way to express it and/or communicate those feelings. A tantrum is not one of those ways.

Martha Heineman Pieper Ph.D
May 20, 2020

Good suggestions for understanding and responding to tantrums. It’s so important to recognize that tantrums are the result of feeling overwhelmed and not attempts to manipulate. They represent misery not bad acting. Children can learn to come to parents for comfort rather than suffering the isolation and unhappiness of a tantrum.

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