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Childhood Tantrums and Natural Therapies

Infant and Children | May 20, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Children, infants

Childhood Tantrums and Natural Therapies

Tantrums happen when children are overwhelmed by strong feelings and lose control of their emotions and behaviour. They happen most often in toddlers and are a normal and necessary part of their development. As children get older they gradually learn to manage their own feelings and learn the behaviour that is expected of them.

What is a tantrum?

A tantrum is when a child loses control of their feelings and behaviour. They are not able to calm themselves down or think about what is happening. Tantrums are a chance for children to learn about feelings that may seem ‘big’ to them. When an adult responds to a child's feelings and to the cause of the tantrum, it helps to teach a child the skills to manage their own feelings and behaviour.

Not all strong feelings are tantrums. Children can be defiant or angry at times, but it doesn't mean they are losing control and having a tantrum.

What causes tantrums?

Some people use the term 'temper tantrum' but the anger and frustration of a tantrum is always mixed with other feelings. A toddler may be:

  • Scared
  • Jealous of a sibling
  • Disappointed at not getting what he/she wants.
  • There might be too much going on around them, or they could be hungry, unwell or tired.

Why Tantrums happen

What is a tantrum?Tantrums are most common in children aged one to three years.  This is because children’s social and emotional skills are only just starting to develop at this age.

Children often don’t have the words to express their emotions. They want more independence but fear being separated from a parent or caregiver as well as discovering that they can change the way the world works.

Older children can have tantrums too. This can be because they haven’t yet learnt more appropriate ways to express or manage their feelings or it may be because they are slower than others to develop self-regulation.

For both toddlers and older children, there are things that can make tantrums more likely to happen:


This influences how quickly and strongly children react to things like frustrating events. Children who get upset easily might be more likely to have tantrums.

Stress, hunger, tiredness and overstimulation

What is a tantrum?These can make it harder for children to express and manage feelings and behaviour.

Tough Situations

Situations that children can’t cope with. For example, a toddler might have trouble coping if an older child takes a toy away.

Strong emotions 

Worry, fear, shame and anger can be overwhelming for children.

Natural therapies for Tantrums


Lemon Balm. An essential herb for relaxation, focus, and calm. It can help when children lose control over their emotions and aid in regaining control on their own.

Passionflower. Passionflower contains flavones called chrysin which relax the mind and make a child less likely to engage in emotional outbursts. Passionflower can be taken in the form of tincture, tablet, extract or supplement.

Passionflower helps to relax the mind and body and therefore a child may be less likely to engage in temper tantrums. Passionflower calms the emotions and helps to keep aggression and anger in check. Passionflower is an ideal herbal remedy for warding off temper tantrums.

Natural therapies for TantrumsChamomile. Chamomile is a good herb if a child is having issues around bedtime. If children are having night-time meltdowns it may be a fear of what’s in the dark or what comes to them when they close their eyes.

It is a carminative herb and that can be used on a regular daily basis to help to calm the nervous system and make tantrums less likely to occur. 

Valerian. Valerian is good for countering the varying emotions and mood swings that accompany temper tantrums. Valerian is an adaptogenic herb and it is also a natural relaxant. This herb helps to maintain emotional stability.

Valerian is also a natural sedative. Valerian root has even been used to make medications to counter disturbing emotions such as anger. This herb is very effective for soothing mental agitation. Valerian root can also be taken in supplement form for countering the anger and emotional instability experienced during a temper tantrum.

Vitamins and Minerals

Magnesium. This mineral is used in over 300 reactions in the body, and is important for healthy nerve conduction, muscle activity, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis and immune function. Sufficient magnesium is important to help maintain levels of serotonin, the mood regulating hormone and is essential for kids suffering with temper tantrums.

Zinc. Zinc is an important mineral. It is necessary for many systems, including the brain, immune and gut. An adequate zinc status helps the body to respond well to daily stress.

B vitamins. These help to relieve tiredness and fatigue when dietary intake is inadequate as they are involved in cellular energy production. B vitamins are also used in important biochemical pathways including the production of critical brain neurotransmitters (chemicals which nerves use to communicate with each other) necessary for healthy behaviour regulation.

Diet: Foods to Avoid

Say No to Sugar. Recent research suggests that the neurological substrates in the brain responsible for emotions appear to be more robust than those of cocaine.

Diet: Foods to AvoidWhat this means in simple terms is that sugar is more addicting than drugs.

The influence of foods high in sugar can cause mood swings; from an extreme high to a terrible low.

Sugary highly processed snacks are not only unhealthy but they are full of empty calories that can make a cranky child even crankier.

Food Additives. There are a number of food additives that can be harmful to children. These additives can cause hyper-activity, a lack of concentration, and temper tantrums. Additives are certain preservatives such as sodium benzoate preservatives are notorious for causing trouble with mood in children.

Food Colouring. Food colouring is linked to causing mood changes in children. A recent study suggests that food dyes, such as those found in processed foods can have a dramatic effect on a child’s cognitive function, causing hyperactivity and loss of focus.

Diet: Foods to Include

High Fibre Fruits. High fibre fruits are a good mood food. These fruits are full of a beneficial antioxidant known as quercetin, a powerful brain-boosting element. Although these fruits can have loads of good, complex sugar, they are low on the glycaemic index which means they won’t spike insulin levels and cause the extreme sugar high then the low and result in mood instability.

Oats. Oats release their energy slowly so energy levels won’t shoot up and crash down causing a child to feel hungry, moody, and more prone to tantrums. Oats can also help to keep the nervous system calm and therefore help a child to feel more relaxed. They have the ability to do this as they contain glutamic acid, which the body uses to make a brain chemical called GABA which is known as an anti-anxiety substance.

Eggs. Eggs are a mood boosting meal packed with essential vitamins and minerals to help many systems of the body, especially the brain. They are rich in tyrosine, which we use to make the brain chemical dopamine which has many different functions.

Oily Fish. Oily fish will benefit a child’s behaviour. Salmon, mackerel, sardines and other oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which include both EPA and DHA. Both of these fatty acids have the ability to help electrical signals in the brain to pass easily from one cell to another. Oily fish will also aid concentration and brain function.

Spinach. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale are essential. They can help to increase mood because they are rich in zinc and magnesium. Both of these minerals play an important part in brain development and attention. Spinach is also rich in B vitamins, which are associated with mood-boosting properties.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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