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Taming the Temper Tantrum

Categories: Pediatric Health

When a temper tantrum strikes, especially in public, a parent’s natural response may be to console and do whatever they can to end it.

They might try negotiating or reasoning, which can be nearly impossible with a toddler. In some cases, you might even consider bribery.

However, the more you try to console and negotiate, the more it will encourage the behavior down the road.

The best ways to deal with tantrums is to ignore or distract.

Throwing a tempter tantrum is a normal stage that every toddler goes through.

As little people with big emotions, children at this stage are still learning to express their desires and feelings in the right way.

Tantrums can be a result of vying for a parent’s attention or a protest to not getting their way. Toddlers are practical and motivated, so they experiment with ways to get what they want.

If crying works, they’ll learn to cry louder and longer when things don’t go their way. If it’s screaming that seems to get the attention they’re craving, that will become their go-to mode of communication.

The more you simply ignore the tantrum, the more quickly your child will realize that kicking and screaming is not the way to get what they want.

Yes, at first, they may test you.

They may cry harder, scream louder or flail more vigorously. Stay patient and continue to adhere to the boundaries you have set.

Setting boundaries are healthy and important.

Define the rules of your home and family, and stick to them. If you waver, that can be confusing for a child and usually leads to more outbursts.

In addition to not giving the tantrum attention, sometimes distracting your child can put an end to the screaming.

You can distract with objects and even try pointing out interesting things in your environment. Be careful about diverting their attention with food because we don’t want children to become accustomed to relying on food to console them.

In addition to these methods, ensuring your child is well-rested, properly nourished and on a consistent schedule can help reduce the likelihood for a meltdown.

This is good advice for parents to heed, as well. The more well-rested and nourished you are, the more patient you will be and better equipped to handle the challenges.

Meet the Author

Christine Field, M.D.

Specialty: Pediatrics
Areas of Interest: Growth & Development

Dr. Field is a Pediatrician with Hoag Medical Group at the Irvine - Woodbridge location. She is passionate about guiding children and parents to live healthy, fulfilling lives through wellness, nutrition, and physical activity.View Bio [+]