Real Talk

Coregulation: A Successful Parenting Strategy That Helps Tame Toddler Tantrums

Instead of escalating with their mood, parents can try standing calm and firm via coregulation.

Coregulation may not be so new, but it’s a parenting technique wherein we don’t just shut down our toddler’s tantrums. Instead, we model to them how to shut it down. Although we’re always quick to “fix” our kids’ problems so we can have some peace and quiet, there are some problems that can’t be “fixed.” Those are usually the hustles and bustles in daily life, which can be overwhelming for a toddler.

So how can parents coregulate especially when some of the behaviors are triggering? Here’s how to set things up.

coregulation parenting style

1. Avoid using logic to solve the problem.

Logic would’ve worked if we were dealing with an adult. But toddlers don’t have that yet; they only have their emotions to understand what’s happening around them.

Asking them what happened will not just frustrate them, but us also because they can’t give us a straight answer. Instead, stick to questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no.” Those don’t need much processing and it demonstrates to our toddlers how to take it one step at a time.

2. Make sure our partner follows the same coregulation method!

Our parenting usually goes awry because we’re not aligned with our partners. Although we’ll always have some differences, parenting strategies need consistency. Not only does it make the lesson stick faster but it also helps reduce the amount of fights we have as a couple!

In the case of learning coregulation, practice it on each other first. The breathing, the line of questioning, and even offering comments on how it can be done better—embed the method by practicing it on one another.

Because once we’re familiar with the effects and how it helps, we can tailor fit it to our toddlers who probably throw tantrums the same way we used to when we were kids!

3. Be mindful that some things sound scarier to kids.

While we’re all about building resilience in our kids, some things just seem more overwhelming to them as tiny humans. Their brains are still developing coping methods with the sounds and kids usually have a sharper sense of hearing than adults because they haven’t been exposed to loud noises as much as we have. Loud voices can make them feel threatened and as much as we would like to just holler for people to come out of their rooms, our toddlers won’t feel safe in a house like that.

In case it fails, warn our toddlers. Tell them to cover their ears, so that they learn how to regulate the amount of sound that fills the air.

4. Deconstruct the tantrum into three parts: volume, performance, and content.

Behaviors trigger us in three ways: performance (what they do), volume (the loudness of their voice), and content (what our toddlers are freaking out about). The thing is, we need the content but not the volume and the performance so, we deconstruct their tantrum into three parts. Breathe deep and first plug our ears with anything that can reduce the volume of the crying but not to the point we can’t hear anything.

With the volume more manageable, we’ll be less triggered to escalate along with them. By then, we’ll be able to gently hold them and stop their flailing. After that, they’ll be able to tell us what’s bothering them.

This concept was derived from the same effect horror movies have on their viewers. Depriving one sense (e.g. hearing, or vision) reduces the fear factor the horror movie has so, it follows the same concept when dealing with triggering behaviors.

5. Remember that coregulation methods are always a work in progress.

Struggling to coregulate is normal, especially if we’re facing triggering behaviors. We’ll feel helpless and hopeless, sometimes even relapsing to our old reactive behavior to just “shut down the tantrum.”

But coregulation is a technique for the long game; kids who had parents coregulate with them are known to be more resilient and are more open to communication with their parents when they get older (Gleason and Narvaez, 2019; Armstrong-Carter, Sulik, & Obradović, 2021).

For many of us who didn’t experience this with our parents, we may have a farther starting line but it doesn’t mean we won’t get there.

Coregulation can help stop temper tantrums

To tame the tantrum, we must first master our minds.

Coregulation is when parents serve as their toddler’s alternative brain—the part of them that remains calm. Because toddlers haven’t learned to process things theoretically or mentally, they’ll still need something concrete or physical to base their behaviors off from.

Unfortunately, the learning curve to this technique is that there will be days that we feel that our toddlers are just out to make us miserable (Stern, 2022).

But remember: our toddlers are incapable of malice. At least not at their age — they’re still struggling to see themselves in another person’s shoes. So it’s up to us to show them how they can.


Armstrong‐Carter, E., Sulik, M. J., & Obradović, J. (2021). Self‐regulated behavior and parent‐child co‐regulation are associated with young children’s physiological response to receiving critical adult feedback. Social Development30(3), 730-747.

Gleason, T., & Narvaez, D. (2019). Beyond resilience to thriving: Optimizing child wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing9(4).

Stern, M. (2022). Do Parents’ Mindsets Matter?–Implicit Theories and Co-Regulation in Preschoolers’ Self-Regulation (Doctoral dissertation).

More about toddlers and tantrums?

7 Toddler-Friendly Countries to Visit in Asia
How to Handle Toddler Tantrums
4 Extracurricular Classes That Babies and Toddlers Can Attend

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