Effective Ways to Deal With Temper Tantrums

By Nannette Richford
Trying to reason with a child during a temper tantrum is doomed to failure.
Trying to reason with a child during a temper tantrum is doomed to failure.

Children are more likely to have temper tantrums when they are hungry, tired or coming down with a bug. Some tantrums can even be caused by food allergies. Your little one's temper tantrums may seem like a lot a fuss about nothing, but the truth is your youngster is just expressing his frustrations in the only way he knows. Occasional temper tantrums born from frustration are perfectly normal for babies and toddlers, but when they become too frequent, or your child fails to outgrow them as he reaches school age, it is time to take action to quell those temper tantrums for good.

In the Heat of the Moment

When your little one is in the throws of a full-blown temper tantrum is no time to try to reason with her. Not only is she unlikely to understand adult reasoning, she's in no emotional state to hear it anyway. This is the time when you ignore the fuss, if you can. As long as she is safe, ignoring the hissy fit won't do her any harm. If her motive is to get your attention, that will backfire too. Walk away from her or simply continue with what you are doing and you may be pleasantly surprised that the tantrum subsides on its own.

Be Proactive

Heading off those temper tantrums is always the best solution to managing your child's behavior. Sometimes this means waiting until after the nap before visiting friends or shopping. Other times, it means avoiding situations that you know your child finds challenging. If your little darling can't bear to drive past the park without stopping to play, choose another route and avoid the temptation. Attending to your little one's needs by seeing that he is well-rested and fed before going out in public and avoiding common triggers goes a long way toward avoiding temper tantrums.

Give Her Some Space

When temper tantrums arise despite your efforts to head them off, giving your child some space to get it under control is an effective response. A time out chair, or better yet a few minutes in her room, may be all that she needs to calm down and regain control. Remember the goal is not to punish her behavior, but to give her the time and space she needs to control her own actions. Telling her she can return to the activity when she is calm and stops crying lets her know exactly what you expect.

Give Attention Freely

Sometimes children throw temper tantrums because they feel they are not getting enough of your attention. Spending time with you little one doing pleasant activities may work to prevent temper tantrums that arise from his need for attention. Praising him when he is playing quietly, or otherwise exhibiting the behavior you desire, often reinforces that behavior.

Older Children and Temper Tantrums

According to R.J. Fetsch, Colorado State University human development and family studies specialist and professor, children typically outgrow temper tantrums as they learn to use their words to express their frustrations and anger. Violent temper tantrums that continue beyond the preschool years and extend into elementary school may signal more serious issues. Seek the advice of your school psychologist or other medical professionals if your school-age child continues to express himself via temper tantrums or violent outbursts.

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.