Behavior Modification in Children With Temper Tantrums

By Candice Coleman
Feeling out of control may lead to temper tantrums.
Feeling out of control may lead to temper tantrums.

In the middle of the store, your daughter throws herself to the floor and begins to whine and beg for a toy. This experience is a common one for parents of toddlers and children. Temper tantrums can cause embarrassment and discomfort for parents. Understanding the root cause of your child's tantrums may help you ward off tantrums in the future.

Causes of Tantrums

Underlying emotions and states may make temper tantrums more likely, such as when your child is sick, hungry or tired, according to Dr. William Sears. Children may use temper tantrums to get their way if it has been effective in the past, according to the Kids Health website. During the early years, children are becoming independent and want control over themselves and their environments. When they cannot have it, temper tantrums often come into play. Parents may find that in some cases it is better to avoid triggers, like going to a store, if a child needs rest or dinner first, according to Dr. Sears.

Distraction Modifications

Keeping distractions with you, like puzzles for children or books for toddlers, may prove effective when it comes to preventing or ending temper tantrums, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your child is begging for a toy or beginning to whine, offer a distraction. In other cases, you may need to change environments or go to a private place where your child can calm down. In a public place, that may mean finding a bathroom or going to the car to cool down.

Attention and Control Modification

Children may also use temper tantrums as a means to get attention, according to the Kids Health site. Try to spend more time with your child and reward positive behavior, like complimenting a toddler who is sitting quietly at a restaurant. Your child may also be seeking control, so providing options may be effective. When going out to eat, you may want to give your child the choice of multiple meals or drinks. Showing that your child has some control over her environment may make her less prone to having temper tantrums.

Other Behavior Modifications

In some cases, you may find that you are not bothered that your child wants a toy or candy. Knowing when to give in and when to hold your ground is an important part of parenting, and it can ward off some temper tantrums, according to the Kids Health website. Parents may also find that ignoring the tantrum until a child calms down or providing love and affection during a tantrum may cause a child to cool off, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. No matter the course of action you choose, hitting or scolding your child may make a tantrum worse.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.