Taming Temper Tantrums

Child crying

By Marcella Childs, MD

Even though they aren’t much fun for parents, temper tantrums are a normal part of every childhood. Tantrums are a child’s way of letting off steam when mad, frustrated or overwhelmed. They are most common between the ages of 1 and 3.

You can reduce the number of tantrums your child has the following ways:
  • Make sure your child has enough rest and enough to eat. Children are more prone to tantrums when they’re tired and/or hungry.
  • Choose your battles with your child. If your little one is mad because he doesn’t want to ride in his car seat, stand your ground. But if he wants to wear his red sweater instead of a blue one, let him.
  • Have realistic expectations. Don’t expect toddlers to behave on four-hour shopping trips to the mall or to keep their hands in their laps at the toy store. Plan shorter excursions with your child that end before nap or mealtime.

When your child has a tantrum, stay calm. If you’re in a public place, try to get to the car or a rest room − someplace where your embarrassment won’t add to the emotional tension. It’s all right to hold your child and comfort him by saying, “I know you are upset, but you’ll feel better soon,” but do not give in to the demand that started the tantrum. Temper tantrums usually taper off by age 4 or so.

Dr. Childs practices with CHKD Health System’s Town Center Pediatrics..