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Taming Temper Tantrums

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Theresa Sheppard
Published Date: Monday, April 02, 2018

By Dr. Theresa Sheppard, Hampton Roads Pediatrics

Temper tantrums are a normal part of child development. They’re most common between 1 and 3 years of age, and should taper off by age 4. When a child has a tantrum it’s their way of letting off steam when angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Tantrums provide a young child the opportunity to release the stress of sensory overload.

How Parents Can Help:

  • Make sure your child is getting enough rest and has routine meal times. Children are more prone to tantrums when they’re tired or hungry.
  • Choose your battles. If your little one is angry because he doesn’t want to ride in his car seat, stand your ground. 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 long trips. Try bringing along a book or small toy to keep them busy.
  • Change the environment to help a child who is feeling overwhelmed. For example, speak calmly, turn down the TV or music, dim bright lights, etc.
  • Recognize desirable behavior with attention, praise, and encouragement. “Look at that, you were so mad, and you were able to calm yourself down.”
  • When your child has a tantrum, stay calm yourself. And, don’t reinforce the behavior by giving in to the demand that started the tantrum.
  • Help your child calm down by taking deep breaths. Say, “Breathe with me. You can do it.”
  • Teach your child to use words when they are mad.
  • Some children hold their breath, turn blue, and faint during tantrums. This will not harm your child. As soon as they faint, they will begin breathing normally again.

If your child has a tantrum, don’t take it personally. They are just trying to figure out how the world works and need your guidance.

If you have questions about the severity, length, or frequency of your child’s tantrums, discuss them with your pediatrician, especially if your child seems likely to harm themselves or others.



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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.