NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Temper Tantrums

Temper Tantrums

          One of the many stages children go through when growing up is temper tantrums.  Tantrums are emotional outbursts that most often occur when young children are learning to communicate. A child’s limited communication skills make it difficult for them to express themselves. As the child become more and more frustrated, that frustration comes out as crying, screaming, kicking, stomping or even their breath.

          Tantrums generally begin around age 12 to 18 months and peak between 2 and 3 years. Then they will decrease until age 4. After that, tantrums are not as much of an issue.

          Many parents feel helpless or embarrassed when temper tantrums show up. Parents can help the temper tantrums from becoming explosive. Parents should not fight with the child during a temper tantrum. Shaking, spanking, or screaming will just make the tantrum worse. Don’t be tempted to spank your child when he is upset. He is already out of control and he will become scared when he sees you out of control and angry too.

          What a young child needs most during times of temper tantrums are parent who are able to remain calm and collected. By staying calm, the parent is modeling acceptable behavior.  The most effective method to handle a temper tantrum is to ignore it. However, the parent should stay close by. Always stay in the same room and within sight. That way you can make sure the child will not hurt themselves or others. You may sit by the child and pat them, but do not say anything.

          What if your child has a tantrum in a public place, such as the grocery store? It’s important to understand that your child is not the first to scream in public. Even the people who stare or make comments have probably gone through this themselves. If the tantrum continues, you may have to pick your child up and leave the store. If you give your child what she wants when she has a tantrum, she may learn to use tantrums to get her way all the time.

          Children have a harder time dealing with the world when they are tired, hungry, or sick. Be sure that your child eats and sleeps at his or her usual times Tantrums can scare children. They need to know that you disapprove of their behavior but that you still love them.


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