Emotional regulation and tantrums

Berry Brazelton a famous paediatrician and child psychologist says that “Next to love, discipline is a parent’s second most important gift to their child”.


There is much discussion about parents who are too lenient or too strict. Often parents base their beliefs on their own experiences, good and bad.

But remember discipline is not punishment. The aim is to teach children self-discipline. A child who is able to respect boundaries and develop a sense of self-discipline finds it easier to make friends and succeed at school.

Perhaps the most important thing for a parent is learning to set safe boundaries and being consistent. It is also good to remember that parents are learning too and won’t always get it right!

Learning to express feelings

Some challenges that you may see are very normal in your child’s development and they need to go through some of these experiences for their social skills, emotions and brain to develop.

It is very common to hear about the ‘terrible twos’. At this point in your child’s development they are beginning to learn to manage their own feelings; e.g. when they are cross because they can’t have sweets on a shopping trip and they begin to cry and lie on the floor.

Although very frustrating for parents your child is beginning to express their feelings and learning to manage those difficult emotions. Often your child will need your help by you acknowledging their disappointment.

Development stages

Always try to remember the child’s stage of development. A small child will not begin to be able to manage their own emotions or behaviour before they are at least two. The emotional regulation part of the brain is not yet developed. It is much the same as when you rocked your baby to sleep when they cried as a new-born your child will still need your help.

Support with your child’s behaviour

Sometimes your child’s behaviour may feel challenging to you. Please feel free to speak explore your concerns with your health visitor.

The First Steps team supports parents and children in managing difficult behaviour in children.

If you would like to look at some more information you can access the Solihull online course.