How To Deal With Temper Tantrums

A child who’s in the middle of a temper tantrum is a wild, uncontrollable creature who may scream, kick, or hit anyone who’s nearby.

The scene is unpleasant but not uncommon. All parents have been there before.

Though it’s difficult, try to remain calm and resist the urge to give in to your child’s demands. Here are some ideas on how to stop temper tantrums by communicating, setting limits, and explaining rules.

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Why Children Experience Temper Tantrums

Toddlers between the ages of 18 to 24 months are the children who are most likely to throw tantrums. Their brains are still developing and, as a result, these youngsters have less self-control when they are upset.

Toddlers often have tantrums when they cannot express their feelings in words. These outbursts are more likely when they feel tired or hungry, so make sure they rest and eat well. Don’t take them out or overstimulate them when they feel tired.

Older kids create scenes if they feel frustrated and that you’re not hearing them. Take time to listen to your child each day. Trying to reason with a child in the middle of a tantrum is usually unsuccessful because the child may have gotten too out of control to listen.

Some parents give in to toddler temper tantrums. Though giving in may control the screaming, it also teaches the child that throwing a tantrum is an effective way to get what they want.

How To Deal With Toddler Tantrums in Public

Many parents share horror stories about getting stuck at the supermarket or the mall with a howling toddler. Dealing with tantrums out in public is awkward, but getting angry and yelling usually worsens the situation.

Try to maintain your authority and composure. Take a deep breath. Calmly tell your child that their behavior is unacceptable and give them a choice — they can either calm down or you will remove them from the situation.

If it’s not possible to leave, the child should expect a consequence such as a time out at home. If the child is screaming in the checkout line, try to stay calm. Every parent has been there before.

How To Deal With Tantrums That Arise at Home

Children feel bad about themselves when they’ve lost control, and punishment only increases their sense of helplessness.

One effective way to stop toddler temper tantrums is to simply ignore them.

Let your child know that they cannot disturb others and that you will listen to them when they’re quiet. You may need to hold your child to quiet them down but should not talk to them while they’re throwing a tantrum.

When your child has calmed down, discuss what happened and suggest better ways for them to express themselves the next time they’re upset. Teach your child to use words to express their feelings. Propose ways to ask politely for things they want and praise them when they have calmed down.

Kids learn from their parents’ examples. If you remain calm, your child is more likely to settle down too. By ignoring tantrums, you let your kids know that they achieve nothing by yelling and screaming.

It’s normal for kids to throw tantrums, but adults can teach them better ways of expressing themselves that will reduce any tendency to fly into a rage.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.