Tantrums and Sensory – Are they related? – Part 1

TantrumI often ┬ápost and comment on several parenting and homeschooling groups. I run across a TON of the same kinds of posts…

My child is out of control! They are always throwing tantrums and being mean to everyone in the house. I’ve tried everything….I am almost to the point I can’t even stand my own child.

I can tell you I’ve been there, done that…with my own 3 grown children and the 27 children we fostered. It is NOT a fun place to be. Everyone is miserable.

But what if there is a fairly simple fix? Something so simple in fact that it is often over looked in favor of more invasive tactics like medication. (Please don’t go there before trying my tips listed below.)

In my education as a teacher and a foster parent, I can tell you that while the things I suggest are simple, they are hardly easy. Let’s face it mama…your child pulls at your heartstrings. It is a natural in-bred feature that all mothers have. No one likes to hear their child cry. No one likes to hear their child feel angry. It just hurts a Mama Heart.

Have no fear, these are fairly painless.

Optimizing the Environment

We all know that we have personal preferences. I like to have a lot of light. My husband prefers more subdued lighting. I like to sleep with one foot hanging out. My son is all twisted up in his blankets like a cocoon.

You know what I’m talking about. You can tell me a whole list of your child’s preferences. What if that IS the answer? What if all the change that really needs to take place is to Optimize the Environment for each person?

Five SensesVisual Environment

Between 80 and 90 percent of all information that is absorbed by our brain is visual. – Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching┬áby Eric Jensen

Wow. We take in a lot more visually than any other way. Here are some things to look for:

  • Create visual images through color – Does your child gravitate towards or away from certain colors? Sometimes color overlays have been helpful in helping children overcome Dyslexia and reading issues.
  • Pay attention to lighting – Does you child move towards or away from lighting? If lighting bothers them, consider changing the type of light bulbs to softer, more natural light.
  • Consider the peripheral surroundings – Is your child distracted by too much around them or craving more? Consider removing distractions if over-stimulated. If under-stimulated, allow a small squeezable hand toy, fiddle toy, or textile changes for the child to feel while they sit.
  • Evaluate screen time – Is your child getting too much time in front of a screen? Too little? Studies show that too much screen time hard wires a child’s brain to addiction levels in some cases. However, consider moderation in all things. The majority of children do great with just a little screen time each day. Watch for the levels that work best for your child.

Temperature and Hydration

With modern day air conditioning, temperature is one of the easiest things to control. The question is, what about the children’s temperature needs? One child needs socks all year while another is stripping down to nothing any chance they get. If your child is irritable more in the summer, consider that they might be over-heated. Something as simple as an ice pack on the back can cool down an anxious child who is too hot.

Are they always complaining about being cold? Allow some simple throws over the couch to quickly cover up while the a/c is on and off again when it shuts off. Everybody is different, but young children often cannot articulate well how they feel. Watching for those little signs can help a ton in regulating the tantrum thrower.

How much water is your child consuming each day?

With all the options these days, I’ve noticed that children drink less and less pure water and more and more mixed drinks like Kool-Aid and, heaven forbid, soft drinks. These leave children dehydrated more often than not. I didn’t cut our the sweet drinks all together, but I did have water first and at meals. Kool-Aid was alright in small amounts at snack.

Watch out for reactions to dyes. If your child starts up soon after red Kool-Aid, consider looking for patterns in behavior related to food dyes.

Things to watch for:

  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Sudden aversion to foods they used to like
  • Stomach aches
  • Sudden rushes of energy


While these may not be the answer for ever issue in these areas, it is a good place to start. I found that keeping a small notebook and writing down what I see happening helped me to figure out pretty quickly, within 2-3 weeks, some little things that we could change to make each child’s environment optimized for happiness and learning.

These are just a few areas in which the environment impacts a child’s well-being and learning state. Part 2 next week will address Aromas, Sound, Ionization and more.

Posted in Basic Learning, Core Phase, Detox, Human Body, Learning Styles, Love of Learning, Natural Law Parenting, Parenting

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