How to Handle Tantrums

Tantrums come in all shapes and sizes. It can be frustrating for any parent. It can make you question your parenting technique, but they’re a normal part of growing up. It can make you feel exhausted and frustrated, but it is usually nothing to worry about. 

What are tantrums?

A temper tantrum is an unplanned outburst of anger and frustration by a child. Tantrums can be either physical or verbal. Your child may act out, be disruptive, or exhibit other undesirable behaviors. They usually act this way because they want or need something that they can’t express verbally.

According to mayoclinic.org, a tantrum is the expression of a young child’s frustration with their limitations or anger about being unable to get their way. 

Why Do Kids Have Tantrums?

Some children have tantrums frequently, while others have them only occasionally. Tantrums are part of growing up. They are how young children express their dissatisfaction or frustration.

Tantrums commonly occur when children are tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. They may have a meltdown if they cannot get something (such as a toy or a parent) they want. Children develop the ability to deal with frustration as they grow older.

Tantrums are common in the second year of life when language skills develop. Because toddlers cannot express what they want, feel, or require, a frustrating experience may result in a tantrum. Tantrums tend to decrease as language skills improve.

Toddlers want more independence and control over their surroundings than they can handle. This can result in power struggles because a child believes “I can do it myself” or “I want it, give it to me.” When children realize they can’t do it or can’t get everything they want, they may throw a tantrum.

How can we avoid tantrums?

  • Provide a lot of positive attention. Make it a habit to catch your child doing something good. Reward with praise and attention for positive behavior.
  • Try to give toddlers some control over things. Offer minor choices like orange or apple juice or brushing teeth before or after bath.
  • Distract your child’s attention. Take advantage of your child’s short attention span by substituting something else for what they can’t have.
  • Choose your battles. Consider your child’s request carefully. Is it something outrageous? Maybe it isn’t.
  • Know your child’s limitations. If you know your toddler is tired, now is not the time to go grocery shopping or run one more errand.

How to handle a tantrum?

The best way to handle a tantrum is to stay calm. Your child might imitate your behavior if you respond with loud, angry outbursts. Don’t complicate the problem with your frustration or anger. Remind yourself that your job is to teach your child to relax.

Tantrums should be handled differently depending on the cause of your child’s distress. You may need to provide comfort at times. If your child is hungry or tired, it’s time for a snack or a nap. Other times, it’s best to ignore an outburst or distract your child with a new activity.

Suppose a tantrum is happening to get attention from parents. In that case, ignoring this behavior is one of the most effective ways to reduce it. If your child throws a tantrum after being denied something, remain calm and don’t give your child too many reasons why he can’t have what he wants. Continue with another activity to do with your child.

If your child throws a tantrum after being told to do something she does not want to do, it is best to ignore the tantrum. But be sure to follow through on having your child complete the task after she is calm.

Children in danger of injuring themselves or others during tantrums should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down. This is also applicable to tantrums in public places.

If a safety issue is involved and a toddler repeats the forbidden behavior after being told to stop, use a time-out or hold the child firmly for several minutes. Be consistent. Don’t give in on safety issues.

Do not reward your child’s tantrum by giving in. This will only prove to your little one that the tantrum was effective.

Dealing with tantrums can be very draining and stressful. You might need to step in to end the tantrum immediately. But if it’s safe, it can help you take a breather while deciding how to respond. 

Lastly, don’t judge yourself as a parent based on your child’s many tantrums. Remember that all children have tantrums. If you’re outside and other people give you dirty looks, ignore them. They either never had children, or it’s been so long since they had a young child that they’ve forgotten what it’s like. Instead, just focus on how you respond to the tantrum and remember that you’re only human. Part of parenting is learning as you go.