It can range from a crying jag to a screaming fit but a child’s temper tantrum is never nice – not for the child and not for the witnesses. Unfortunately, temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up and almost every child will have a few before they learn that such episodes are not exactly socially acceptable. While parents can learn to understand and hopefully head off future temper tantrums, there is probably no way to avoid them altogether. Instead, parents should spend their energy remaining calm during these flashes of anger than worrying about eradicating them.
Temper Tantrums Through the Ages
There can be many reasons that children have temper tantrums, though some stereotypes can be made based on the age of the child. For example:
Infants – infants do not generally have temper tantrums. Instead, they usually cry out when they have a need such as hunger or a dirty nappy. When an infant’s need has been met, his/her mood will usually revert to that of the adults around him/her.
Toddlers – toddlers are especially prone to temper tantrums, hence the “terrible twos” and “terrible threes”. Usually these tantrums result from frustration which can be magnified when the toddler is especially hungry or tired.
Young children – young to school aged children will usually have fewer temper tantrums than toddlers because by this age the child will likely have learned more coping skills. However, young children often realise that temper tantrums, especially when held in public, will get them what they want and may employ this technique as needed.
Children – older and school aged children do not generally have temper tantrums, but they may if they become overwhelmed or especially tired. Children with fewer coping skills and less patience will be more likely to have temper tantrums.
Avoiding Temper Tantrums
It will probably not be possible to avoid all temper tantrums, but there are some things that parents can do to lessen the number that they must suffer through. Many parents find it helpful to:
Eat meals and snacks at similar times each day so that children do not get too hungry.
Set naptimes and bedtimes each day so that children do not get overtired.
Give their child limited options so that they always have a choice.
Avoid activities or settings that may become frustrating for a child.
Warn their children when they are about to end an enjoyable activity or leave an enjoyable setting.
Coping with a Temper Tantrum
Each parent will develop his/her own way of coping with temper tantrums, but in general there are three main approaches. General methods of coping with temper tantrums include:
Distracting the child. This technique works especially well with toddlers who tend to focus on one item or object at a time and can be easily led on to something else.
Removing the child. Sometimes children become so overwhelmed that they need be taken to a new setting before they will calm down. If this is the case, even a different room in the house or simply walking outside of a restaurant may help.
Ignoring the child. Some children, particularly those over the toddler years, will have temper tantrums in order to get attention. Simply ignoring the child may help to defuse this type of temper tantrum.
Childhood and temper tantrums go hand-in-hand, but this doesn’t mean that parents must suffer through unlimited tantrums with every child. Instead, there is much parents can do to avoid tantrums and limit them when they do occur. With a little bit of prevention and a lot of luck, tantrums should dwindle before they drive everyone crazy – including the child who is having them!
i think once you start to learn the child handling their behavior is easier. it takes time but patience is a virtue!
Amber Parks - 28-Dec-20 @ 7:11 PM
we work with 5 year olds to 12 year olds.We try to tell the kids what are the basic rules the first day of school.We call them friends from day one.We encourage them to assist us in putting articles to play with out so everyone can play with them.We do not try to solve there problems for them but encourage them to think on there own.If conflicts come out we sometimes give them alone time for 5 minutes.Each day is a new opportunity to enjoy and thrive in our before care and aftercare program.We are a Department of Social Services licensed program.We tell the parents we solely exist for their children to thrive and grow.If their is a problem that day we tell the parents immediately.
steve - 25-Oct-19 @ 4:49 PM
I have 5 children and with each child I learned handle the tantrums differently.
Dee - 18-Apr-19 @ 3:12 AM
@None - you're right. I always find that speaking to them eye-to-eye is always the best option.
RRD - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:20 PM
Getting down to the child's level and speaking with them rather then at them often helps. Showing that I truly care about why they feel this way.
None - 30-Jun-18 @ 12:18 PM
@Kitty - that's a good idea. Most children want to get their point across when and where they possibly can :) A bit of displacement activity always works too, to quickly distract them over to something else.
Lucy78 - 13-Feb-17 @ 10:16 AM
I usually try to get to the point on What is the cause of the fuss. Either than that I normally ask the child to calm down explain for him/herself to what is the matter. Having eye to contact is very effective and tells the child that you care therefore they will just calm down and tell you what the matter is.
Kitty - 12-Feb-17 @ 1:59 AM
Iampreschool teachers aid and I find that in one child In my room he has a tantrum drop off in the mornings also when a teacher leaves the room or when he refuses to have diaper change
What I do is " when you are ready you can join us.! After I change your diaper.
Or I ask for help from my director when it affect my other children in the class
Ceci - 1-Oct-16 @ 10:13 PM
I find it's always helpful to remain calm.
Marni - 29-May-15 @ 3:53 AM
I found distraction and staying calm to be the best way to diffuse my children's temper tantrums
hd - 7-Nov-13 @ 5:43 PM
I take the child on the side away from all the other children. And try to talk it out. And to calm the child down
skye - 30-Aug-13 @ 2:15 AM
When a child is having temper tantrum I usely take them aside and asked how do they feel and what is wrong .It real helps when you talk them calm and eye to eye.
n/a - 20-Mar-12 @ 9:03 PM
I like to identify with their feelings, but stay firm with the direction. I praise quickly for a calm response.
golfchik - 9-May-11 @ 2:19 PM
I work with 2-3 year olds and I find it useful to validate their feelings. For example, "I know you are very upset right now and you want to play with that toy, but we need to rest right now. Maybe after we rest we can play again when we are happy." Something to that affect sometimes helps. Make them feel like you understand their feelings.
Mammafriz - 15-Apr-11 @ 7:31 PM
I find ignoring the behaviour works best. Although if the child is hurting themselves or others time out is appropriate - one minute per age even for one year olds.
curious caterpillar - 9-Apr-11 @ 8:47 PM
I often handle a temper tantrum by remaining calm and let the child work it out at his/her own pace that usually works for me.