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It's important for whānau to manage their own emotions when a child is having a tantrum. Showing love helps them feel safe and loved and to learn self-control.

As toddlers grow, they’ll want things that aren’t always a great idea for someone their age. It’s important for whānau to try to keep a positive ‘spin’ on things, especially if their child is starting to ‘lose the plot’ (have a tantrum).

In fact, it’s often at the most trying moments that it’s important for parents to keep on top of their emotions, stay cool – and avoid an adult tantrum!

A child is developing new feelings and understandings and can be particularly sensitive to being ‘growled’ at. Angry words can have a negative influence on a little child.

Ask whānau:

  • What do you think a child learns when they're yelled or screamed at?
  • What else could you do when you feel like shouting and swearing?

The Tākai baby frieze picture that says ‘Tell me you love me’ seems easy to do when a child is snuggled up quietly in bed or asleep in their parent’s arms. However, when they’re screaming and throwing themselves about on the floor it’s not so easy. For a child this age, not getting their own way can result in tantrums. This is because they can’t yet manage their emotions.

It can feel very hard for parents when their child is behaving like this, but helping them to feel safe and loved is actually what their child needs most during these times. This is how a young child will learn how to control their emotions in the future.

Showing love

For some whānau, saying ‘I love you’ is not something that comes naturally. And parents don’t always have to say the words ‘I love you’ to their child. They can say it through their actions.

  • Do you have ways of expressing love without actually saying it?
  • Can you think of things your whānau does to show that love?

In the Whakatipu book Te Pihinga 3 it says,

  • ‘We try and make playing together a regular part of every day’ (page 17).
  • ‘Keeping ourselves calm during frustrating times is hard. Sometimes we just have to step away and take a quick break’ (page 18).


  • How do you keep your child safe at those times when you need to move away from them?
  • Are there things you could do or change so that can happen?

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Kōrero mai, e aroha ana koe ki ahau – Tell me you love me

When I hear voices speaking gently I feel safe.

Six things children need – Te ārahi me te māramatanga – Guidance and understanding

We expect that our child will not yet understand other people’s needs and feelings.

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