Temper Tantrums and Your Young Child
How to cope with your young child's tantrums
It is normal for toddlers and preschoolers to throw temper tantrums. This is their way to cope with frustration and overwhelming emotions. Be prepared for temper tantrums. You can help your child manage tantrums by showing love and talking through his frustration.
How to cope with temper tantrums
- Nip tantrums in the bud. Address the behavior as soon as it starts without getting angry or giving in to your child. Say to your child, "When you stop crying we'll talk about it and see what can be done." Then walk into the next room.
- Show love. It's okay to hold your child if she comes to you during a tantrum and she's too young to be left alone, but don't respond to what she wants until she calms down.
- Engage in other activities. Begin going about your normal routine such as leafing through a magazine or opening the mail, to let your child know she won't get your attention until she has calmed down. Tantrums stop much more quickly in the absence of an interested audience in most cases.
- Get some privacy. When in public ignore any glares you get, take your child to a private corner to wait for her to calm down. Tell her, "I'll sit down with you until you stop screaming." If she doesn't stop crying or screaming after three or four minutes, take her home.
- Model emotional coping techniques. Show your child how adults can find other ways of coping with stress and anger besides yelling and screaming. Use phrases like “I'm upset now, but I'm going to figure out how to fix this.”
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund.
Behavior & Discipline