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The Scientific Reason Your Child Has Tantrums (and 5 Steps to a Tantrum-Free Future)

I had just brought my newborn daughter home excited to introduce her to her almost 2-year-old big sister. I had images of hugs, kisses, and pure sisterly bliss in my mind. And in the beginning, it was all that. My oldest approached her with curiosity, stroked her face, and patted her belly lightly while smiling and laughing with glee. I felt immense joy. Several hours later my oldest (who seemingly was in a ‘good mood’) threw herself to the floor suddenly screaming with blood-curdling rage, tears, and sadness. I was shocked by how quickly her emotions shifted. Naturally, she was sad, jealous, and confused, as to who this new human was and why she was consuming all of our energy.

Tantrums. Even adults have them and yet when our toddler experiences one it feels as if the whole world is crumbling. Tantrums are intense, loud, and downright upsetting for just about anyone who’s within earshot! And yet, in order to help our toddlers, we first need to remember that they are developmentally necessary. Once we understand this, we become better equipped to know how to regulate them so that tantrums do not take a hold of us!

Tantrums are normal, but they’re not inevitable. There’s a scientifically proven mechanism in all brains that, when triggered, makes tantrums more likely. And if we learn what triggers this mechanism then we can reduce the number of tantrums in our home.  

To understand this trigger, think about playing three slot machines. At the first one, you never get a reward no matter how many times you pull. You’d stop playing this one pretty quick. But at the second one, you know that every 5th pull you’ll get $1. So, after 100 pulls, you have $20. What’s the likelihood, you’ll stick around and do another 100 pulls, knowing exactly what you’ll get and when? Most people would pull it for a while, but the desire to continue pulling would eventually wane because the reward is relatively small and you’d know exactly when to expect it.

But imagine a second slot machine where randomly you’d get $1 or $5 or a $20 pull. You don’t know when it’ll come up. Maybe on the first try or maybe on the 100th. Just like the first, it would only dole out $20 per 100 pulls, but research shows that you’d be much more likely to stick around for the second slot machine. Scientists have discovered, using pigeons, rats, and humans, that brains get triggered--you could say excited--by these random rewards.

The trigger is called “intermittent reinforcement,” and it’s activated whenever we’re exposed to “intermittent reinforcement schedules.”

Now why the heck do we care about intermittent reinforcement schedules and slot machines? Because as parents we sometimes inadvertently act like that random slot machine and put our children on intermittent reinforcement schedules by never giving in EXCEPT in that one instance, or maybe that other time too. And when our behavior is random like this, we may unknowingly increase the frequency of tantrums.

For example, if a child has a tantrum in a grocery store because you refuse to buy them their favorite candy, but one day when the temper tantrum is really bad (think throwing themselves on the floor, pouting, crying, screaming, kicking), you give in and buy their candy to make the tantrum stop, you have just put your child on an intermittent reinforcement schedule and thus increased the likelihood that the next several times you are in the store and you tell your child "no" your child will most likely use the same tantrum tactic to get what they want.

As ridiculous as it sounds, the fact that it might work once every so often is powerful enough to make tantrum behavior even stronger. Crazy, right? I remember in my clinical practice parents remaining consistent in not giving into the tantrum, but once in a blue moon they would give in to the tantrum and provide the child with what they wanted despite their tantrum behaviors. Of course, the parents usually gave into the tantrum at a time and place with a lot of social visibility (grocery store, family reunion) and the parent felt mortified and just wanted their child to stop.

It’s these once-in-a-blue-moon, please-dear-god-just-stop moments that make future tantrums inevitable.

So, what do we do? Stay strong. Commit to your values as a team with your partner. Have a plan ahead of time.  

Remember the days before kids where you would daydream about what kind of kid you would raise?  This is your value set. Think of your values as your golden compass to help you navigate these murky tantrum waters. Maybe you thought you would want your child to be kind, a hard worker, patient, generous of spirit, etcetera. Whatever your values are, ask yourself how their tantrum behavior fits into your value set. Most likely it does not. Ask yourself: is the tantrum behavior something you want them to continue? Probably not. Use this in the heat of the moment when the tantrum seems so terrible you could burst.

So the next time your child begins to lose it, use these 5 steps to ensure that their tantrums are short-lived and very rare:

1. Hold the space

Help your child ride the wave of intense emotions by reflecting on their feelings out loud: “Yes, I know it feels bad, sad, disappointing, upsetting not to get that toy. It’s ok to feel that way.”  The more you can let them know that you really get what they’re feeling, the shorter their tantrum will likely be. Remember that the child is exploring ways to regulate their emotions and do not yet have the skills to navigate these deep emotions maturely.

2. Ensure safety

After you hold the space for them to feel their feelings, it’s ok to move on with what you’re doing so long as the toddler is safe. Allow them to safely express their emotions and let them know you’re here for them when they’ve calmed down.

3. Remember your game plan

Now you know that if you give in to a tantrum, even once, you’re increasing the likelihood of another one in the future. Make your game plan beforehand and stick to it. When your child has a meltdown, a part of them is actually acting quite rationally as they test what rewards this behavior will get them. By standing strong, sticking to your game plan, and not giving in, you’re telling them that they need to find other ways of getting rewards.

4.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Not many parents can remain totally cool and calm as their child has a complete meltdown. But this is a practice that can be learned over time. The more you remain calm and centered, the easier it will be for your child to come back down to earth. Take as many deep breaths as you need, ground yourself by feeling your feet on the floor, and remain present by continuing to verbalize their emotions (from step 1).

5. Move on

Teach them how to regulate their emotions by using something familiar that they enjoy and can hold onto such as a favorite stuffed animal. This helps them regulate their frustrations by shifting their attention. You may also use breathing, humming a calming song, or hugging them gently to communicate: I am here for you, your feelings are not too much for me, they are valid, real, and your true experience. I am sorry you are disappointed but I cannot buy you/give you/let you do X.

So, how did my toddler’s tantrum end on that day we brought her new baby sister home? It didn’t end immediately and it wasn’t the last tantrum ever, but I followed these five steps, quietly held her on my lap, and sang a soft song while she screamed and flailed, letting her know that we are always here for her. She eventually calmed down, her wails turned to soft sniffles, and an eventual deep breath of exhaustion. When she got down off my lap she blew me a kiss and then continued to play with her stuffed animals.

The Scientific Reason Your Child Has Tantrums (and 5 Steps to a Tantrum-Free Future)

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The Scientific Reason Your Child Has Tantrums (and 5 Steps to a Tantrum-Free Future)

Yes Collective Expert Alicia Wuth, PsyD shares scientific insight to our kids' tantrums, and how we can avoid more in the future.

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Key takeaways

1

Psychologist and Yes Collective Director of Mental & Emotional Health, Alicia Wuth, PsyD, sheds light on the science behind why temper tantrums continue to occur.

2

Understanding the science allows parents to feel empowered to handle them like a boss.

3

Learn 5 simple strategies to prevent tantrums in the future.

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I had just brought my newborn daughter home excited to introduce her to her almost 2-year-old big sister. I had images of hugs, kisses, and pure sisterly bliss in my mind. And in the beginning, it was all that. My oldest approached her with curiosity, stroked her face, and patted her belly lightly while smiling and laughing with glee. I felt immense joy. Several hours later my oldest (who seemingly was in a ‘good mood’) threw herself to the floor suddenly screaming with blood-curdling rage, tears, and sadness. I was shocked by how quickly her emotions shifted. Naturally, she was sad, jealous, and confused, as to who this new human was and why she was consuming all of our energy.

Tantrums. Even adults have them and yet when our toddler experiences one it feels as if the whole world is crumbling. Tantrums are intense, loud, and downright upsetting for just about anyone who’s within earshot! And yet, in order to help our toddlers, we first need to remember that they are developmentally necessary. Once we understand this, we become better equipped to know how to regulate them so that tantrums do not take a hold of us!

Tantrums are normal, but they’re not inevitable. There’s a scientifically proven mechanism in all brains that, when triggered, makes tantrums more likely. And if we learn what triggers this mechanism then we can reduce the number of tantrums in our home.  

To understand this trigger, think about playing three slot machines. At the first one, you never get a reward no matter how many times you pull. You’d stop playing this one pretty quick. But at the second one, you know that every 5th pull you’ll get $1. So, after 100 pulls, you have $20. What’s the likelihood, you’ll stick around and do another 100 pulls, knowing exactly what you’ll get and when? Most people would pull it for a while, but the desire to continue pulling would eventually wane because the reward is relatively small and you’d know exactly when to expect it.

But imagine a second slot machine where randomly you’d get $1 or $5 or a $20 pull. You don’t know when it’ll come up. Maybe on the first try or maybe on the 100th. Just like the first, it would only dole out $20 per 100 pulls, but research shows that you’d be much more likely to stick around for the second slot machine. Scientists have discovered, using pigeons, rats, and humans, that brains get triggered--you could say excited--by these random rewards.

The trigger is called “intermittent reinforcement,” and it’s activated whenever we’re exposed to “intermittent reinforcement schedules.”

Now why the heck do we care about intermittent reinforcement schedules and slot machines? Because as parents we sometimes inadvertently act like that random slot machine and put our children on intermittent reinforcement schedules by never giving in EXCEPT in that one instance, or maybe that other time too. And when our behavior is random like this, we may unknowingly increase the frequency of tantrums.

For example, if a child has a tantrum in a grocery store because you refuse to buy them their favorite candy, but one day when the temper tantrum is really bad (think throwing themselves on the floor, pouting, crying, screaming, kicking), you give in and buy their candy to make the tantrum stop, you have just put your child on an intermittent reinforcement schedule and thus increased the likelihood that the next several times you are in the store and you tell your child "no" your child will most likely use the same tantrum tactic to get what they want.

As ridiculous as it sounds, the fact that it might work once every so often is powerful enough to make tantrum behavior even stronger. Crazy, right? I remember in my clinical practice parents remaining consistent in not giving into the tantrum, but once in a blue moon they would give in to the tantrum and provide the child with what they wanted despite their tantrum behaviors. Of course, the parents usually gave into the tantrum at a time and place with a lot of social visibility (grocery store, family reunion) and the parent felt mortified and just wanted their child to stop.

It’s these once-in-a-blue-moon, please-dear-god-just-stop moments that make future tantrums inevitable.

So, what do we do? Stay strong. Commit to your values as a team with your partner. Have a plan ahead of time.  

Remember the days before kids where you would daydream about what kind of kid you would raise?  This is your value set. Think of your values as your golden compass to help you navigate these murky tantrum waters. Maybe you thought you would want your child to be kind, a hard worker, patient, generous of spirit, etcetera. Whatever your values are, ask yourself how their tantrum behavior fits into your value set. Most likely it does not. Ask yourself: is the tantrum behavior something you want them to continue? Probably not. Use this in the heat of the moment when the tantrum seems so terrible you could burst.

So the next time your child begins to lose it, use these 5 steps to ensure that their tantrums are short-lived and very rare:

1. Hold the space

Help your child ride the wave of intense emotions by reflecting on their feelings out loud: “Yes, I know it feels bad, sad, disappointing, upsetting not to get that toy. It’s ok to feel that way.”  The more you can let them know that you really get what they’re feeling, the shorter their tantrum will likely be. Remember that the child is exploring ways to regulate their emotions and do not yet have the skills to navigate these deep emotions maturely.

2. Ensure safety

After you hold the space for them to feel their feelings, it’s ok to move on with what you’re doing so long as the toddler is safe. Allow them to safely express their emotions and let them know you’re here for them when they’ve calmed down.

3. Remember your game plan

Now you know that if you give in to a tantrum, even once, you’re increasing the likelihood of another one in the future. Make your game plan beforehand and stick to it. When your child has a meltdown, a part of them is actually acting quite rationally as they test what rewards this behavior will get them. By standing strong, sticking to your game plan, and not giving in, you’re telling them that they need to find other ways of getting rewards.

4.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Not many parents can remain totally cool and calm as their child has a complete meltdown. But this is a practice that can be learned over time. The more you remain calm and centered, the easier it will be for your child to come back down to earth. Take as many deep breaths as you need, ground yourself by feeling your feet on the floor, and remain present by continuing to verbalize their emotions (from step 1).

5. Move on

Teach them how to regulate their emotions by using something familiar that they enjoy and can hold onto such as a favorite stuffed animal. This helps them regulate their frustrations by shifting their attention. You may also use breathing, humming a calming song, or hugging them gently to communicate: I am here for you, your feelings are not too much for me, they are valid, real, and your true experience. I am sorry you are disappointed but I cannot buy you/give you/let you do X.

So, how did my toddler’s tantrum end on that day we brought her new baby sister home? It didn’t end immediately and it wasn’t the last tantrum ever, but I followed these five steps, quietly held her on my lap, and sang a soft song while she screamed and flailed, letting her know that we are always here for her. She eventually calmed down, her wails turned to soft sniffles, and an eventual deep breath of exhaustion. When she got down off my lap she blew me a kiss and then continued to play with her stuffed animals.

I had just brought my newborn daughter home excited to introduce her to her almost 2-year-old big sister. I had images of hugs, kisses, and pure sisterly bliss in my mind. And in the beginning, it was all that. My oldest approached her with curiosity, stroked her face, and patted her belly lightly while smiling and laughing with glee. I felt immense joy. Several hours later my oldest (who seemingly was in a ‘good mood’) threw herself to the floor suddenly screaming with blood-curdling rage, tears, and sadness. I was shocked by how quickly her emotions shifted. Naturally, she was sad, jealous, and confused, as to who this new human was and why she was consuming all of our energy.

Tantrums. Even adults have them and yet when our toddler experiences one it feels as if the whole world is crumbling. Tantrums are intense, loud, and downright upsetting for just about anyone who’s within earshot! And yet, in order to help our toddlers, we first need to remember that they are developmentally necessary. Once we understand this, we become better equipped to know how to regulate them so that tantrums do not take a hold of us!

Tantrums are normal, but they’re not inevitable. There’s a scientifically proven mechanism in all brains that, when triggered, makes tantrums more likely. And if we learn what triggers this mechanism then we can reduce the number of tantrums in our home.  

To understand this trigger, think about playing three slot machines. At the first one, you never get a reward no matter how many times you pull. You’d stop playing this one pretty quick. But at the second one, you know that every 5th pull you’ll get $1. So, after 100 pulls, you have $20. What’s the likelihood, you’ll stick around and do another 100 pulls, knowing exactly what you’ll get and when? Most people would pull it for a while, but the desire to continue pulling would eventually wane because the reward is relatively small and you’d know exactly when to expect it.

But imagine a second slot machine where randomly you’d get $1 or $5 or a $20 pull. You don’t know when it’ll come up. Maybe on the first try or maybe on the 100th. Just like the first, it would only dole out $20 per 100 pulls, but research shows that you’d be much more likely to stick around for the second slot machine. Scientists have discovered, using pigeons, rats, and humans, that brains get triggered--you could say excited--by these random rewards.

The trigger is called “intermittent reinforcement,” and it’s activated whenever we’re exposed to “intermittent reinforcement schedules.”

Now why the heck do we care about intermittent reinforcement schedules and slot machines? Because as parents we sometimes inadvertently act like that random slot machine and put our children on intermittent reinforcement schedules by never giving in EXCEPT in that one instance, or maybe that other time too. And when our behavior is random like this, we may unknowingly increase the frequency of tantrums.

For example, if a child has a tantrum in a grocery store because you refuse to buy them their favorite candy, but one day when the temper tantrum is really bad (think throwing themselves on the floor, pouting, crying, screaming, kicking), you give in and buy their candy to make the tantrum stop, you have just put your child on an intermittent reinforcement schedule and thus increased the likelihood that the next several times you are in the store and you tell your child "no" your child will most likely use the same tantrum tactic to get what they want.

As ridiculous as it sounds, the fact that it might work once every so often is powerful enough to make tantrum behavior even stronger. Crazy, right? I remember in my clinical practice parents remaining consistent in not giving into the tantrum, but once in a blue moon they would give in to the tantrum and provide the child with what they wanted despite their tantrum behaviors. Of course, the parents usually gave into the tantrum at a time and place with a lot of social visibility (grocery store, family reunion) and the parent felt mortified and just wanted their child to stop.

It’s these once-in-a-blue-moon, please-dear-god-just-stop moments that make future tantrums inevitable.

So, what do we do? Stay strong. Commit to your values as a team with your partner. Have a plan ahead of time.  

Remember the days before kids where you would daydream about what kind of kid you would raise?  This is your value set. Think of your values as your golden compass to help you navigate these murky tantrum waters. Maybe you thought you would want your child to be kind, a hard worker, patient, generous of spirit, etcetera. Whatever your values are, ask yourself how their tantrum behavior fits into your value set. Most likely it does not. Ask yourself: is the tantrum behavior something you want them to continue? Probably not. Use this in the heat of the moment when the tantrum seems so terrible you could burst.

So the next time your child begins to lose it, use these 5 steps to ensure that their tantrums are short-lived and very rare:

1. Hold the space

Help your child ride the wave of intense emotions by reflecting on their feelings out loud: “Yes, I know it feels bad, sad, disappointing, upsetting not to get that toy. It’s ok to feel that way.”  The more you can let them know that you really get what they’re feeling, the shorter their tantrum will likely be. Remember that the child is exploring ways to regulate their emotions and do not yet have the skills to navigate these deep emotions maturely.

2. Ensure safety

After you hold the space for them to feel their feelings, it’s ok to move on with what you’re doing so long as the toddler is safe. Allow them to safely express their emotions and let them know you’re here for them when they’ve calmed down.

3. Remember your game plan

Now you know that if you give in to a tantrum, even once, you’re increasing the likelihood of another one in the future. Make your game plan beforehand and stick to it. When your child has a meltdown, a part of them is actually acting quite rationally as they test what rewards this behavior will get them. By standing strong, sticking to your game plan, and not giving in, you’re telling them that they need to find other ways of getting rewards.

4.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Not many parents can remain totally cool and calm as their child has a complete meltdown. But this is a practice that can be learned over time. The more you remain calm and centered, the easier it will be for your child to come back down to earth. Take as many deep breaths as you need, ground yourself by feeling your feet on the floor, and remain present by continuing to verbalize their emotions (from step 1).

5. Move on

Teach them how to regulate their emotions by using something familiar that they enjoy and can hold onto such as a favorite stuffed animal. This helps them regulate their frustrations by shifting their attention. You may also use breathing, humming a calming song, or hugging them gently to communicate: I am here for you, your feelings are not too much for me, they are valid, real, and your true experience. I am sorry you are disappointed but I cannot buy you/give you/let you do X.

So, how did my toddler’s tantrum end on that day we brought her new baby sister home? It didn’t end immediately and it wasn’t the last tantrum ever, but I followed these five steps, quietly held her on my lap, and sang a soft song while she screamed and flailed, letting her know that we are always here for her. She eventually calmed down, her wails turned to soft sniffles, and an eventual deep breath of exhaustion. When she got down off my lap she blew me a kiss and then continued to play with her stuffed animals.

I had just brought my newborn daughter home excited to introduce her to her almost 2-year-old big sister. I had images of hugs, kisses, and pure sisterly bliss in my mind. And in the beginning, it was all that. My oldest approached her with curiosity, stroked her face, and patted her belly lightly while smiling and laughing with glee. I felt immense joy. Several hours later my oldest (who seemingly was in a ‘good mood’) threw herself to the floor suddenly screaming with blood-curdling rage, tears, and sadness. I was shocked by how quickly her emotions shifted. Naturally, she was sad, jealous, and confused, as to who this new human was and why she was consuming all of our energy.

Tantrums. Even adults have them and yet when our toddler experiences one it feels as if the whole world is crumbling. Tantrums are intense, loud, and downright upsetting for just about anyone who’s within earshot! And yet, in order to help our toddlers, we first need to remember that they are developmentally necessary. Once we understand this, we become better equipped to know how to regulate them so that tantrums do not take a hold of us!

Tantrums are normal, but they’re not inevitable. There’s a scientifically proven mechanism in all brains that, when triggered, makes tantrums more likely. And if we learn what triggers this mechanism then we can reduce the number of tantrums in our home.  

To understand this trigger, think about playing three slot machines. At the first one, you never get a reward no matter how many times you pull. You’d stop playing this one pretty quick. But at the second one, you know that every 5th pull you’ll get $1. So, after 100 pulls, you have $20. What’s the likelihood, you’ll stick around and do another 100 pulls, knowing exactly what you’ll get and when? Most people would pull it for a while, but the desire to continue pulling would eventually wane because the reward is relatively small and you’d know exactly when to expect it.

But imagine a second slot machine where randomly you’d get $1 or $5 or a $20 pull. You don’t know when it’ll come up. Maybe on the first try or maybe on the 100th. Just like the first, it would only dole out $20 per 100 pulls, but research shows that you’d be much more likely to stick around for the second slot machine. Scientists have discovered, using pigeons, rats, and humans, that brains get triggered--you could say excited--by these random rewards.

The trigger is called “intermittent reinforcement,” and it’s activated whenever we’re exposed to “intermittent reinforcement schedules.”

Now why the heck do we care about intermittent reinforcement schedules and slot machines? Because as parents we sometimes inadvertently act like that random slot machine and put our children on intermittent reinforcement schedules by never giving in EXCEPT in that one instance, or maybe that other time too. And when our behavior is random like this, we may unknowingly increase the frequency of tantrums.

For example, if a child has a tantrum in a grocery store because you refuse to buy them their favorite candy, but one day when the temper tantrum is really bad (think throwing themselves on the floor, pouting, crying, screaming, kicking), you give in and buy their candy to make the tantrum stop, you have just put your child on an intermittent reinforcement schedule and thus increased the likelihood that the next several times you are in the store and you tell your child "no" your child will most likely use the same tantrum tactic to get what they want.

As ridiculous as it sounds, the fact that it might work once every so often is powerful enough to make tantrum behavior even stronger. Crazy, right? I remember in my clinical practice parents remaining consistent in not giving into the tantrum, but once in a blue moon they would give in to the tantrum and provide the child with what they wanted despite their tantrum behaviors. Of course, the parents usually gave into the tantrum at a time and place with a lot of social visibility (grocery store, family reunion) and the parent felt mortified and just wanted their child to stop.

It’s these once-in-a-blue-moon, please-dear-god-just-stop moments that make future tantrums inevitable.

So, what do we do? Stay strong. Commit to your values as a team with your partner. Have a plan ahead of time.  

Remember the days before kids where you would daydream about what kind of kid you would raise?  This is your value set. Think of your values as your golden compass to help you navigate these murky tantrum waters. Maybe you thought you would want your child to be kind, a hard worker, patient, generous of spirit, etcetera. Whatever your values are, ask yourself how their tantrum behavior fits into your value set. Most likely it does not. Ask yourself: is the tantrum behavior something you want them to continue? Probably not. Use this in the heat of the moment when the tantrum seems so terrible you could burst.

So the next time your child begins to lose it, use these 5 steps to ensure that their tantrums are short-lived and very rare:

1. Hold the space

Help your child ride the wave of intense emotions by reflecting on their feelings out loud: “Yes, I know it feels bad, sad, disappointing, upsetting not to get that toy. It’s ok to feel that way.”  The more you can let them know that you really get what they’re feeling, the shorter their tantrum will likely be. Remember that the child is exploring ways to regulate their emotions and do not yet have the skills to navigate these deep emotions maturely.

2. Ensure safety

After you hold the space for them to feel their feelings, it’s ok to move on with what you’re doing so long as the toddler is safe. Allow them to safely express their emotions and let them know you’re here for them when they’ve calmed down.

3. Remember your game plan

Now you know that if you give in to a tantrum, even once, you’re increasing the likelihood of another one in the future. Make your game plan beforehand and stick to it. When your child has a meltdown, a part of them is actually acting quite rationally as they test what rewards this behavior will get them. By standing strong, sticking to your game plan, and not giving in, you’re telling them that they need to find other ways of getting rewards.

4.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Not many parents can remain totally cool and calm as their child has a complete meltdown. But this is a practice that can be learned over time. The more you remain calm and centered, the easier it will be for your child to come back down to earth. Take as many deep breaths as you need, ground yourself by feeling your feet on the floor, and remain present by continuing to verbalize their emotions (from step 1).

5. Move on

Teach them how to regulate their emotions by using something familiar that they enjoy and can hold onto such as a favorite stuffed animal. This helps them regulate their frustrations by shifting their attention. You may also use breathing, humming a calming song, or hugging them gently to communicate: I am here for you, your feelings are not too much for me, they are valid, real, and your true experience. I am sorry you are disappointed but I cannot buy you/give you/let you do X.

So, how did my toddler’s tantrum end on that day we brought her new baby sister home? It didn’t end immediately and it wasn’t the last tantrum ever, but I followed these five steps, quietly held her on my lap, and sang a soft song while she screamed and flailed, letting her know that we are always here for her. She eventually calmed down, her wails turned to soft sniffles, and an eventual deep breath of exhaustion. When she got down off my lap she blew me a kiss and then continued to play with her stuffed animals.

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