How to Handle Temper Tantrums in Children

Are you looking for information on what are temper tantrums? If so, you have reached the right place. In this article, I’m going to cover a very common but critical issue regarding how to handle temper tantrums in children. 

As you may know, as a parent you are only responsible for your child’s behavior when you are present. But in some cases that is not enough and there must be an intervention.

What is a temper tantrum?

Temper Tantrums

When a child has an “unplanned outburst of anger and frustration”, they are throwing a temper tantrum. Tantrums can be physical, verbal, or a combination of both. Your child will be showing unpleasant behaviors because they want or need something but they can’t express it in words. 

Tantrums are usually blown out of proportion. It could be a minor situation but expect your child to react strongly. It can be as simple as asking them to put their toys away or turn down a request. When they react by thrashing, yelling, and hitting, your child is throwing a temper tantrum. 

But, why is it that in the vast majority of cases when frustrated and exasperated parents try to discipline their children by giving them the punishment they end up having more frequent tantrums?

The reason is that they never set limits and do not establish the consequences that are needed to teach them how to behave. So, the whole process becomes totally circular. 

Why do children throw temper tantrums?

The common causes of temper tantrums are: 

  • Frustration
  • Wants attention
  • Wants something (a toy or treat)
  • Doesn’t want to do something (going home from the park or cleaning up)
  • Hungry
  • Tired

One of the main reasons why temper tantrums happen is because the situation isn’t being dealt with correctly. 

Children are not able to form fast, clear, and concise opinions because of their lack of experience in dealing with certain situations. They need to learn how to communicate in an appropriate manner and what acceptable behavior is. 

This is where having a safe place to go when you feel like exploding is so important. It gives them a place where they can go where there’s no fighting and no crying.

Is a temper tantrum a result of bad parenting?

While it’s true that there are parents that don’t know how to handle temper tantrums in toddlers, that doesn’t mean they are bad parents. 

Temper tantrums happen because of a child’s personality and the situation they are in. It’s also a part of the child’s development and they’d usually outgrow their tantrum stage at around 4 years old. 

What to do if a child throws a temper tantrum?

If you have a child that’s been throwing temper tantrums and you’re not sure how to approach this situation, try some of these strategies. 

Distract them. If you see an incoming tantrum, distract your child and shift their attention to something else that they might find interesting or engage them in a fun activity. 

Be calm. A child throwing a tantrum can easily affect your mood as, well. Don’t let your emotions get to you and stay calm as much as possible. If your child is in the middle of his tantrum, let him be. Don’t engage, don’t scold, don’t threaten. Doing so will only the situation worse. Once they’ve calm them, then that’s the time you talk to them. 

Ignore the tantrum. As mentioned, don’t engage with the child if he is throwing a tantrum. Ignoring them will show that throwing a tantrum is not okay. 

Don’t give in. If you give in to your child’s whines and cries, it will only teach them that throwing a tantrum will eventually get them what they want. 

What to do after your child’s tantrums?

Once your child has calmed down, it’s best to talk to them about their behavior. Engage in a conversation that will stop tantrums from happening again. 

Give praise for calming down. Be specific and recognize your child’s good behavior. Instead of saying the generic, “You were so good,” say, “You are so good for cleaning up all your toys.” That way, your child will know what behaviors are accepted. 

Acknowledge their feelings. Just because they are children, doesn’t mean that their feelings are invalid. As a parent, acknowledge the reason why your child threw a tantrum in the first place. Let your child know that you understand them and that you are always there to help. 


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