Parenting

Taming Your Child's Temper Tantrum

How to Reduce Temper Tantrums

Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums have been defined by experts as an unplanned display of anger or emotions by children.  Children will often whine, scream, or cry during a tantrum. They may hold their breath or widely swing their arms and legs. Children between the ages of one and four experience the most occurences of temper tantrums. They usually last about two-three minutes and are most intense at the onset. Usually, when children reach the age of 4 or 5, they have the ability to communicate and express their emotions better, which leads to lesser tantrums. 

Young children are frustrated when they are stopped from gaining independence or from learning a skill. This response is actually quite normal. For instance, when a child is unable to button his or her shirt, or is told to go to bed, they might get upset and lash out.  They may also act up when they are afraid or uncomfortable. When parents react too strongly to the child’s behavior or when parents give in to the demands of their child, as you'd expect, additional temper tantrums are more likely to occur.

Causes

As young children grow, they want they want to do things on their own and become more independent. Temper tantrums typically occur when a child is is sick, tired, or hungry. They are also common when the child is feeling feeling anxious or want to test the rules. You'll see they react strongly when they want something immediately--at that very moment, since patience hasn't been learned yet. Take something away from a young child, and they might just burst into tears and kick and scream. Overstimulation, boredom and too few or too many expectations can cause a tantrum.

How to Stop Tantrums

Every parent has to endure their child's temper tantrums at one point or another. From time to time, young children would try to push their parents' limits. When adults display their disapproval, some young children take their frustration to the extreme. However, some things can be done to bring an end to temper tantrums.  

1. Communicate with your child

  • When your child is upset, talk to him or her using short phrases - Two or three words spoken at a time can be easily comprehended and heard by your child. Children will less likely throw tantrums out of frustration if they understand what is expected of them. If you tell them what you want them to do instead of reprimanding them, they will respond better.
  • Have a compassionate tone when disciplining - Children respond better to a soft calm voice than to an angry and impatient voice. The child may get distressed by harsh tones, which can cause temper tantrums to develop even further.
  • Repeat your desire slowly and emphatically - Children are usually unaware of what is being said to them since they are frequently caught up in themselves. To get your point across, repetition often works.
  • Acknowledge your child's feelings - Children may respond positively when they feel you understand what they feel. In this way, your child feels acknowledged. 

2. Understand temper tantrums

  • Understand the basic reason - Usually, when the child feels out of sorts, he or she is generally prone to having a meltdown. Young children can become cranky when hungry or tired. Frustration also often leads to an outburst. Children react to situations by acting this way out since they do not know how to express themselves or control their emotions yet.
  • Consider your child's need for independence - Most children want to explore and discover the world around them. However, they often want to do things that are beyond their capability.  Temper tantrums can be reduced by giving them independence whenever appropriate. If you say no, every time your child wants to do something, they will struggle to grow and may melt down out of frustration. Sometimes a parent will say no without actually thinking about the reason. Naturally, if your child might get hurt or something is not good for them, by all means, stop the behavior. But if they are safe and exploring, perhaps you might consider letting them continue with the behavior. They still might get frustrated and have a temper tantrum, but what they learned from the activity might be well worth it. 

3. Know the personality of your child

  • Learn the specific personality traits of your child - Some children are calm and have a relaxed disposition while others are moody and hyperactive. Usually, the latter will have intense, more frequent outbursts. 
  • Learn the reactions of your child - A child may have an outburst when you stop him or her from doing a particular activity. A more effective way of transitioning from one activity to another can be developed by knowing your child's reactions.
  • See the way your child shares with others - You can work on the child’s social skills when you see that your child is possessive of their things and having a difficult time sharing.  You can introduce a sharing theme into your child's playtime routine. 

4. Know the triggers

  • The triggers that cause tantrums should be identified and avoided.
  • Whenever possible, remove the item that may trigger your child's tantrums.
  • When you suspect a tantrum is coming, try to distract them with something else.
  • Attempt to incorporate humor into a stressful situation. If you make your child laugh, they'll often forget the upsetting situation and move on.

Final thoughts 

If an outburst does occur, step in to prevent your child from harming himself. Children often kick, hit, and struggle just to get away from their parents. As much as possible, remain calm and determined.  You can speak with a professional if you feel that it's out of control despite your best efforts. 

Key Takeaways

  • A temper tantrum is an expression of a child's frustration along with the challenges that the child is facing at a particular moment
  • One to four years old are the age where most children have temper tantrums 
  • Temper tantrums can be reduced by trying to understand the child’s frustration and emotions and acting accordingly