temper tantrums in toddlers


You’re in a busy park with your preschooler. The child has noticed a toy that you don’t want to buy for him. Then suddenly, your child started whining and crying in the middle of the street and everyone is looking at you. You realized you’re in the middle of a full force temper tantrum.
How would you handle the situation?

What is a Temper Tantrum?

Temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up but it can be frustrating for any parent. A tantrum is an expression of a young child’s frustration when he or she is confronted with an uncomfortable situation. It can range from whining and crying to screaming and kicking. In some cases, children hold their breath, break things, or get aggressive as part of their tantrums.

Tantrums may happen when kids are tired, hungry, or want something that they can’t have. Some kids may have tantrums often while others have them rarely. Learning how to deal with your child’s frustrations will be a skill that you’ll acquire over time.

Why Do Temper Tantrums Happen?

As mentioned earlier, temper tantrums are a child’s way to express frustrations. Maybe your child is having a hard time completing a certain task. Perhaps your child can’t just find the right words to express his or her emotions about something. Regardless of the reasons, their frustrations will somehow result in a fit of a tantrum.

Tantrums are very common during the second year of life when children have difficulties with expressing their thoughts through words. Because they are unable to express what they want to say, they might show it in different ways such as crying or screaming. However, as their communication skills develop, their tantrums tend to decrease. What you have to understand is that your child is not trying to intentionally humiliate you in front of other people. Sometimes, it’s just their way of communicating what they want to say or feel.

For older children, tantrums might be a learned behavior. If you’ve been rewarding your child with anything that he or she wants, then it is more likely that your child is going to continue throwing tantrums. They’re going to start small, then they’ll start asking for bigger things. This might get problematic in the future.

What’s The Best Way to Respond to Temper Tantrums?

While most parents try to prevent tantrums from happening, there are times when children just simply lose their cool. Your child just needs to vent his or her emotions out. When the crying and screaming start to kick in, there’s not much you can do. Here’s some expert advice on how to deal with temper tantrums:

  • Stay calm.

    Before you say a word to your child, take a deep breath first. Temper tantrums can be very stressful to handle. It’s important to remember that you are your child’s role model when it comes to handling anger. If you’re feeling too enraged to even do a basic inhale and exhale routine, exit the room until you’re able to calm down.

  • Acknowledge your child’s strong feelings.

    After you’ve calmed down, talk to your child. Start the conversation with empathetic statements. It’s important that your child knows that you understand what they’re feeling. So instead of saying, “How many times do I have to tell you that you need to eat your breakfast?”, maybe you can try saying “I know that you’re having fun watching Spongebob, but you need to eat your breakfast in order for you to stay healthy.” As much as possible, use a cool and soothing voice to show your concern. It’s a much more effective response than lashing out to your child.

  • Don’t give in to your child’s demands.

    If the tantrums still don’t stop, then you have to take charge. If he throws a fit just because you don’t want to buy him a toy, then don’t buy him one. Giving your toddler what he wants might be easier in the short-term because it will make the tantrums stop. However, this might create difficulties for you in the long run. Your child might think that by throwing tantrums, they can get anything they want.

  • Do not punish your child.

    Again, temper tantrums are a way for your child to express their feelings and emotions. Think about this. If you are in intense emotional pain, will inflicting physical pain on you help you feel any better? I think not. It will just be adding insult to injury. This goes the same with your child. Punishing them will just create a gap between you and your toddler. The child might feel that he cannot trust you to help him understand what he’s going through. If a child learns early on that expressing his feelings will result in punishment, it might lead to the child being defiant.

  • Be consistent.

    You have to be consistent in your approach when dealing with your child’s tantrums. Acknowledge their frustrations but keep a boundary line. If you give in once in a while with your child’s demands, this might just make the tantrums worse. Instead of teaching your child that it might just be a one-time exception and that it will not happen again, you might be sending a wrong signal. They will think that if they are just persistent enough, you will cave in eventually.

The Takeaway

If your child is having temper tantrums, there’s really nothing to worry about. It’s normal and part of a child’s development. Just follow the tips we’ve recommended, and we’re sure that you’re going to handle your child’s tantrums just fine.

For questions about this topic and other concerns, please contact us.