Parenting is hard but there are proven strategies that can reduce meltdowns and tantrums. 

First, let’s look at what’s the difference between a meltdown and tantrums?  

While both meltdowns and tantrums may look similar on the surface, they are caused by different underlying factors. Here are some functional differences:


  • Typically caused by sensory overload, anxiety, or other neurological issues.
  • Often involuntary and overwhelming for the individual experiencing them.
  • Usually occur in response to external triggers or stimuli.
  • May last longer than tantrums and be more physically intense.
  • Require a calm and supportive environment to help the individual regulate their emotions.


  • Often caused by frustration, anger, or a desire to get attention or control.
  • Typically involve intentional behavior, and not a result of being emotionally dysregulated.
  • May occur in response to internal or external triggers such as not getting what they want.
  • Tend to be shorter in duration than meltdowns.
  • Can be addressed through behavior modification techniques and consistent discipline.

Understanding the functional differences between meltdowns and tantrums can help caregivers better support individuals who experience them. *Coming soon: e-children’s book on managing meltdowns. 

Now for the 8 tips that help reduce challenging behaviors regardless of the function!

 *Note these tips are geared for younger children but with a little adjustment can apply to older kids too. 

Talk about what the day will look like the night before, in the morning, & throughout the day.

Offer transitional warnings in advance both verbally & visually (getting their attention at their level). Ie: 5 minutes and then we are going to ….2 more minutes (holding up two fingers or using a timer)

 Take deep breaths when frustrated & remain when your children are testing limits.

 Provide undivided attention and child-lead play time for at least few minutes today.

 Remember that children do well when they know how & that your child isn’t trying to be difficult. Ie: adjust an expectation to demonstrate flexibility, meeting your child where they are at for that day. We do this as adults for ourselves, why not model it for our children.

 Create pause time to allow for processing before giving reminders if they have not followed through yet. Some kids just need more time so building in extra time to transition, adjust, and follow through makes life easier for everyone.

 Talk about your feelings and model how to recover after being frustrated. “That makes you sad. When I get sad, I like to….”

 When your child gets upset, instead of getting frustrated (because you know that only makes it worse) ask if they want a hug & tell them you know it’s hard being a kid sometimes. Then, create an opportunity to practice how they can problem solve through the situation that got them upset.

By keeping these eight things in mind every day, you can become a more mindful parent, which in turn reduces stress at home. Moreover, this can help instill empathy, self-compassion, and emotional intelligence in your child.