Temper tantrums are a normal part of your toddler’s development. They usually occur between the ages of 1 and 3 and lessen by age 4. A tantrum is one way a child can express himself. He is not feeling bad. *

Why do tantrums occur?

They usually happen because a child is frustrated, angry or frightened:

  • he’s unable to explain his needs or feeling (he doesn’t know how to say it yet)
  • he’s not getting his way
  • he can’t fully understand what a grown-up is trying to say

Certain conditions can lead to tantrums:

  • if he is hungry, tired or uncomfortable
  • if he is anxious, frustrated or sick

Preventing tantrums from happening

  • Avoid things that will frustrate him.
  • Don’t have him do stressful things when he is tired.
  • Don’t let him get too hungry. Serve healthy snacks if needed.
  • Pick your No’s. Don’t say no to everything or he will have more tantrums.
  • Let him say what he’s feeling if he’s able. Help him with the words. Give him your attention.
  • Don’t make too many plans for your toddler. Set up some quite time every day where you give him your undivided attention.

* All tips apply to both boys & girls

What to do for your child during a tantrum

Be alert to signs that your child is building up to one. Try to interest him with a new activity or toy. If the tantrum does happen:

  • Remove him from the scene and go to a quite spot.
  • Don’t offer a reward for stopping the tantrum.
  • Watch him, especially if he’s in the bathroom or kitchen. He can hurt himself easily when he’s out of control.
  • It’s very important to be polite to him and not embarrass him about it in front of others.
  • If the tantrum happens in a public place, never threaten to leave him. Stay with him and help him calm down. It might be best to go home.
  • Discuss it once he quiets down. Or review what happened later when your child is happy again.

It can be ok to ignore certain behavior like:

  • crying and screaming for attention
  • slamming doors, sticking out this tongue
  • pounding or kicking the floor (without hurting anyone or anything)

Don’t ignore it when your child:

  • tries to hurt himself, hurt your or others
  • throws things or damages your home
  • has tantrums in public places

What to do for yourself

  • Don’t punish, yell or spank. Keep your cool.
  • Be loving and firm. You are helping your child learn self-control. Remind him “use your words.”
  • Set the rules for your household and stick to them. Make sure other adults follow the same rules in your home.
  • Be clear and consistent about your rules.
  • Provide simple reasons for your rules.
  • If you get too frustrated, go somewhere quiet and take a time-out for yourself for 5 minutes.

Try not to be embarrassed when tantrums occur. They are normal and not wrong. Over time they will diminish. Let your children express themselves. It’s normal for them to test your rules and limits.

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