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Tantrums: how to deal with temper tantrums

Posted by Children Story Time admin, 8 minutes read

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Tantrums: How to deal with temper tantrums to enhance kids learning


Tantrums are a fact of life and all toddlers will throw at least one. However, if you know how to manage tantrums you can curb this behavior. Knowing how to react to different types of tantrums is an important step in effectively dealing with them. If your child is having a meltdown it could be for a number of reasons. These change as your child gets older and by showing them plenty of love and affection and giving them everything they need you will thank yourself in the future. Let’s look at tantrums: how to deal with temper tantrums effectively and make your life easier and your child happier and more confident.


What are tantrums and why do they happen? 

Temper tantrums are equally common in boys and girls but a tantrum can range from breath-holding to screaming. They usually take place when children are toddlers (1-4 years old). This is especially true when a child is starting to develop language skills. At this time in a child’s life, it can be frustrating for them to not be able to say what’s wrong with them or what they want. 


Children who are aged between 1 and 2 usually have a meltdown because they are expressing a need. This could be trying to reach their favorite toy car or wanting milk or a diaper change. With kids aged between 3 and 4, it could also be their way of asserting their power. If you have a toddler, particularly if they’re in their “terrible twos” you can expect to experience a tantrum (or, possibly hundreds!). The trick is how you manage them to try and discourage your child from throwing that next tantrum. 


The main reasons that tantrums happen 

Every kid is different, but these episodes can be boiled down to a physical need or emotional one. Usually, your child will act out when they’re tired, hungry, want attention, or are moody. Or it can be a combination of these. 


Tantrums: how to deal with temper tantrums at the time

The best thing you can do is to try and work out the cause so you know how to handle it. Eliminate whether it’s physical or they want attention. You can easily rectify a physical need and the tantrum should pass. For example, if they’re hungry or thirsty, a quick snack or drink should calm them down quickly. If they’re tired then a nap is in order.


Before you react, you should first consider the sort of environment you are both in. Are you somewhere busy and loud, where the child might feel overwhelmed? Or are you with people that the child often acts up around, and perhaps doesn’t feel safe with? Alternatively, is there something in the room that your child might feel scared of, such as a dog?

If it’s a moody tantrum because your child hasn’t gotten their way or they want attention, try to ignore it. You don’t want to give in because that will let them know that the tantrum was effective. This could lead to your child repeating this behavior when they’re older too. 


Throughout any tantrum, you, as the parent, must remain calm (or try your best!). 

If you become angry it will only exacerbate the situation and you’re trying to teach your child to calm down, so set a good example. Of course, this isn’t always easy. Find a tactic that helps you relax somewhat before responding, even if it’s counting to five and picturing a tropical island far away.


The only time you shouldn’t ignore a tantrum is if your child is in danger of harming themself or someone else. In this situation, it’s best to take them to a quiet place and wait for it to pass. If they repeat this behavior, be consistent in your approach whether you give them a timeout for a few minutes or hold them. 


How to use timeouts 

Timeouts can be an effective way to calm your child’s behavior – but they have to be used properly. One thing that can result in timeouts no longer being effective is overusing them. Different tantrums cause different methods to de-escalate the situation, and timeouts work best when the child needs to reflect on what they have done. 


For example, if they are in a situation when they have hurt another child, you should remove them from that environment, calmly explain to them why what they did was wrong, and then take them to a place with no distractions. Ideally, this will be a place that they consider boring. For this, you might consider the floor in the hallway or in a chair where there is nothing going on around them. This should be somewhere where there’s not a lot of noise – for example, not in the middle of a kitchen surrounded by other children. 


You should then tell the child how long the timeout is for – usually, one to ten minutes is optimal. If they begin to wander or scream, take them back to the timeout spot and explain to them that the time has started again. When they have calmed down, check in with them. Are they feeling okay now? Do they understand? Then, work together to figure out how a situation like this could be avoided in the future. After all, as unpleasant as it was for you, it’s likely that it wasn’t a barrel of fun for them, either.


What should you do after tantrums? 

After every tantrum, you should show your kid that they are loved. Give them hugs and kisses and praise them for their efforts to calm down. They usually know their behavior wasn’t acceptable and will look for reassurance. If your child repeatedly hurts themself, despite your best efforts to control the situation, you may want to involve a doctor. It could be that your child has a learning disability, physical problem (like hearing), or chronic illness. If any of these aren’t addressed, your child will continue to act out in the only way they can. 


How to manage tantrums?  

One of the most important things that you can do following a temper tantrum is have a debrief, first with your partner, and secondly with the child. When you talk to your partner, you should discuss the circumstances that led to the temper tantrum. If it is happening often, try to establish the core reason. Talk about the best ways to move forward, and consider if you could plan ahead to do triggering activities (such as running errands when your child is hungry or tired) when your child is not there, or in a different way. 


Then, you should talk to your child. Ask them about the event: how did it make them feel? How could you have worked together to make it better? Gently, you could ask them for their opinion on how another temper tantrum like that could be avoided. Communication in situations like this is key. By giving your child a voice and the ability to form emotions into words, you can work towards a brighter, (relatively) tantrum-free life. 


Establishing a routine 

Then, you should create a routine that you can all realistically stick to. Firstly, you should build a routine around bedtime. A good suggestion is starting up a “good chart” with your child, where if they do certain things then they can get a reward. An example of this is that they have brushed their teeth, had a wash, and gotten changed into pajamas in time for 6pm. If they manage to do this (with your help), then you could add a star to the chart. 


Once they reach a certain number of stars, they receive a reward. Whilst you may initially think of the reward being chocolate or candy, it might be better to use one which furthers your relationship. For example, it could be a trip to the cinema or the beach, or an evening where you do art together. If your child still wants a treat-based reward, then a trip to the ice-cream shop could be a great idea. After all, spending time together is the greatest reward out there! 


Not only does this help to build the relationship with your child and further establish a routine, but it means that in this scenario, they are able to understand the importance of getting ready for bed and going to sleep on time. This should minimize any temper tantrums for the future. Then, make sure to praise your child when they overcome a tantrum – after all, regulating emotions is incredibly hard! Say phrases such as, “I’m so proud of how you reacted after that,” or “I love it when we listen to each other.” 


How to avoid tantrums?

While it’s virtually impossible to go through parenting and never experience a tantrum, you can drastically reduce their frequency and duration. Monitor your kid and make sure their physical needs are satisfied. After all, if you catch a dirty diaper before it becomes uncomfortable or hand your child a couple of pieces of apple before they feel hungry you could save a meltdown altogether. 


You can also avoid tantrums by being affectionate and giving your child enough attention. If they feel safe and secure and know that you are around and listening, they are less likely to act out.


Sleep is another critical factor. Don’t forget that children need plenty of sleep while they’re growing up. Children between the ages of 1 and 2 need 11-14 hours of sleep each night. From the ages of 3 to 4 they need 10-13 hours. These recommended hours are a total of naps and nighttime sleeping. We get cranky as adults due to a lack of sleep, as do kids.


If you follow these strategies, you should find a marked improvement in your child’s behavior and mood. The main points to remember are to remain calm during a tantrum and work out what your child is trying to say. If it’s something they need, give it to them, and if it’s just attention-seeking, don’t give in. 


Finally, tantrums are often a normal part of growing up. We have all felt overwhelmed or misunderstood, and this feeling is only intensified when we are young and don’t have the words to describe how we feel. Use this time to try to understand your child, and your relationship is bound to be stronger by the end of it.

Finally, tantrums are often a normal part of growing up. We have all felt overwhelmed or misunderstood, and this feeling is only intensified when we are young and don’t have the words to describe how we feel. Use this time to try to understand your child, and your relationship is bound to be stronger by the end of it.


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Meta Description

Tantrums are common in children aged between 1 and 4 years old. We’re going to give you some simple but effective strategies you can use to curb this behavior. 



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