Toddlers 18-24 Months

All you need to know about tantrums

All you need to know about tantrums
Published : February 18 , 2020
Latest Update : December 28 , 2021
Marwa Sati is a speech-language pathologist and an educational psychologist. She has over 20 years experience in working with children and their... more

What is a tantrum?

A tantrum is an uncontrolled expression of frustration or outrage by a child when faced by a difficult situation. A good example would be a young child at the supermarket wanting to buy some candy and makes a scene and has a tantrum. The parents’ immediate reaction to this is usually embarrassment while everyone is looking.


Why do tantrums happen?

Some children don’t understand why they are not allowed to have something they were given once before or they are unable to finish something they started; other children might even have a hard time expressing their feelings and thoughts. Whatever the reason is, the frustration that comes along with a specific situation can result in an explosive tantrum.

As grown-ups, our tolerance and threshold are much lower when we are thirsty, hungry or tired and the same applies to children on a much greater scale. For instance, a child might be out late and past his bedtime and has a tantrum in a shopping mall while the parents scold the child to behave and be quiet. This is very ineffective and is not fair to a child for his parents to have behavior expectations the child can’t fulfill and then punish him for not complying.


Do I punish my child for having a tantrum?

The most important point to keep in mind is to completely ignore your child. Clinical evidence and research show that a lot of misbehavior in children is done to get attention and scolding gives them that sort of attention they are looking for. Research also tells us that time-outs don’t work. What parents need to realize is that good and positive reinforcement is the most effective with their children.


Is there a way to prevent tantrums?

Tantrums can never be completely avoided; however, there are many things parents can do to divert their young child from having a tantrum:

  • Be consistent and stick to a daily routine so your child knows what to expect.

  • Set limits and rules and follow them thoroughly.

  • Encourage your child to communicate and express their thoughts and emotions. The easier it is for a child to use their words the less likely the child will have a tantrum.

  • Try to give your child choices so they feel they are in control.

  • Always avoid speaking or comforting your child while they are having a tantrum. Instead, you can provide your child with support and affection and discuss the issue after they have calmed down.

  • Be sure to praise and tell your child you are proud of them when they are behaving well.

  • Your child will feel secure when you are calm and in control. When you lose your temper or give in to your child’s nagging, you are simply telling your child that tantrums actually do work in getting what he wants.


When do children stop having tantrums?

Children eventually learn how to self-regulate which leads to less frequent tantrums. Most children stop having tantrums by the age of 5 but others may continue to have frequent tantrums. It is important that you discuss these issues with your pediatrician who can then refer you to a specialist. Always remember that early intervention can limit and reduce behavioral problems and help your child succeed in different environments.



Turning Tantrums Into Triumphs: Step-By-Step Guide To Stopping Toddler Tantrums by Pamela Li  


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