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Child Development

Tame Temper Tantrums

tantrumTantrums are normal.
Why does your child melt down from time to time? Researchers think these emotional explosions are part of children’s normal efforts to establish a sense of individuality and autonomy — a sort of declaration of independence from mom and dad. They are also trying to make sense of their emotions and don’t know how to communicate what they are feeling. Sometimes a child will start to express her feelings in subtle ways, such as frowning, sighing or pulling away. Reading and responding to those early cues of building stress may help prevent a tantrum.

Stay calm.
Take a deep breath and try to stay calm. It doesn’t help matters and may make things worse if you get upset. A tantrum is no fun for you, but losing control is scary for a child too. Your child needs you to show her how to calm her body down by taking slow deep breaths and being still.

Stay close.
Kneel or bend down to your child’s level, stay close and touch him soothingly. With a young child, try sitting him on your lap. It may take a few minutes for your child to settle down, but a little time can make a big difference. Reassure him that you are there and that you understand he is upset.

Don’t push for explanations.
During a tantrum, don’t expect your child to explain what’s wrong. She might not even know; and if she is pressured to communicate her feelings when she feels out of control, it could make the situation worse.

Address bad behavior.
Even though occasional tantrums are normal, it’s not okay for a child to hit others or damage things. Explain that hitting is not okay, and just like you wouldn’t let anyone hurt him, you won’t let him hurt himself or anyone else. Children need to feel safe.

Don’t punish.
It can be tempting to punish a child for throwing a tantrum, but it’s not a good idea. Keep in mind that the fits are a normal part of your child’s emotional development. Instead of punishing, use the tantrum as a chance to teach your child to deal with overwhelming emotions and stressful situations. She’ll learn that even though things happen that she doesn’t like, she can learn to make good decisions about calming down and feeling better.

  • Julie

     Im a childcare teacher and have a child in my three year old room who has many screaming tantrums.  What can I do with her because her behavior is so disruptive to the others in class. Is it ok to remove her from the room during these times?

    • tara

      how do i stay clam with a 8months old who has a bad temoer i mean bad

      • tara

        meant temper

      • Lynne

        I am not sure an 8 month old can have a bad temper yet. Don’t know what to say. Maybe talk to the pediatrician?

    • Megan

      Start reading up on co-regulation. Sounds like this three-year-old is still learning how to manage her feelings.

  • Mehbabyizagenius

    My daughter has just turned 19 months and can write the number 8 and 6 when asked. Is this normal?

  • Pingu007

    First I didn’t know what Terrible Twos meant but I found out with my 2 boys..It was a difficult time for us, not really knowing what to do..
    It all changed when I read an article on a
    blog and tried the method they talked about.
    Wow, that really opened our eyes. It worked and our boys behave now.

  • The Kid’s Cave

    I cannot agree more with the bigger sized tools. They are easier to grasp and control for those little hands.

  • Tabby

    my daughter is 11 months and just all by herself on purpose colored on a chalk board mainley dots and a few short lines

  • Pamela (Rookie Parenting)

    Great article. I’d add that “Address bad behavior” should only be done after the child has completely calmed down. Otherwise, their reasoning power is practically locked up and nothing would get through. Here are more tips on dealing with temper tantrums:

  • Mrs Hancock

    My 19 mo has just started in this phase. I ask her if she needs a break, she usually nods yes. Then i breathe slowly with her. Once she calms down we figure out what was wrong and i give her simple words to express herself with. Usually works. When it doesnt, i move her to a slightly different location (room), make her safe, and let her go with it for a minute or two. Then we decide thats enough and we go about ohr day.

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