Classroom Tantrums: What to Do?

15 Sep 2016 | Emotion Regulation, Learning


Definition of TantrumWhen a child doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do something, they often throw a tantrum.

While the behaviour differs between each child, tantrum can be a big source of stress to parents and teachers, because they feel like they have lost control of the child (Silva & Schalock, 2011). Here are some tips you can implement based on the two different stages of tantrum:

Rage Stage (or Tantrum)

When the rumbling phase is not able to be handled and the child starts to show tantrum behaviours, the child can act without control. They can be emotional, explosive, or even aggressive.

Examples of these behaviours: kicking, punching, biting, screaming, harming him/herself, etc. (Protegal, Kosorok, & Davidson, 2003).

What can we do? The first thing is to save any child or person in the same room when there is a chance of harmful interaction. Then, take the child to home-base or other save environment.

The best guess is there is no chance of a logical reasoning with the child in this phase.

Pay attention: don’t give the child what they want, so the tantrum does not get reinforced to become a way to get what he/she wants.

Let this experience make him/her understand that tantrum does not benefit anybody.

Recovery Stage

Give a little time to rest if they are tired after tantrum behaviours.

Then, follow through with the activities they were doing when tantrum happened, but give an easier goal to avoid frustration.

For example: if tantrum happened when the child was finishing 10 mathematics problems, give him more help to finish it, or give 10 easier questions.

This will generate confidence when they succeed to do it, and do not reinforce tantrum behaviour in the same time.



Protegal, M., Kosorok, M. R., Davidson, R. S. (2003). Temper tantrum in young children: 2. Tantrum duration and temporal organization. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 24(3), 148-154.

Silva, L. M. T., Schalock, M. (2011). Autism Parenting Stress Index: Initial psychometric evidence. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1274-1

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