Tantrums: How To Deal With Them Correctly

Tantrums are pretty common in young children, especially during the ages of one to three years old. At this age, children (or toddlers) are beginning to develop their emotional and social skills, and they don’t often have the words to describe their emotions. 

As their mobility and verbal skills have developed, they are beginning to grow independent, and are testing out the ways they can behave, and how they influence others’ behavior. 

During this stage of their development, tantrums are usually a way in which young children express and manage their feelings, especially as they are just getting used to the changes around them. 

It’s also pretty common for older children to have tantrums too. When an older child has a tantrum, it’s usually because they haven’t yet learnt an appropriate way to express their feelings properly. 

What Are Tantrums? 

There is no one way to have a tantrum, but they usually come in forms of anger and frustration. Whilst experiencing a tantrum, your child might cry, scream, kick, fall down, flail around or run away. In more extreme cases, your child may even vomit, hold their breath and may even get aggressive. 

What Causes Tantrums To Occur? 

As noted earlier, when a child has a tantrum, it’s often because they cannot express their emotions with words, and can become overwhelmed. There are several reasons why your child may have a tantrum, but here are some of the common causes: 

Their Temperament

Your temperament influences how you react to the world around you. If your child gets upset easily, they are more likely to have a tantrum, as they need a way to process their frustrations. 

They’re In A Situation That They Can’t Deal With Properly

For example, a young child may not be able to cope properly if a toy is taken away from them. They might not be able to understand why, or be able to explain how they feel which can result in a tantrum. 

Tiredness, Hunger, Stress And Overstimulation

If a child is feeling any of these things, it can make it a lot harder for them to express their feelings which is more likely to lead to a tantrum. 

They’re Experiencing Strong Emotions

If a young child is experiencing shame, worry, fear or anger, it can be very overwhelming for them and they might not be able to regulate these emotions.  

At around 12 months old, children will start to develop the ability to understand their emotions, and find ways to manage their behaviour and reactions.

As a child ages, they will be able to regulate their reactions, and will develop the ability to calm themselves down. This is why older children are much less likely to experience a tantrum. 

How To Reduce The Chance Of Your Toddler Experiencing A Tantrum?

Tantrums are an inevitable thing that will occur in young children, as they don’t yet have the skills to properly regulate their emotions. However, there are some things you can do that will make tantrums less likely to happen. 

Reduce Stress 

Young children can become pretty stressed out when they’re tired, hungry and overstimulated. It’s important to reduce their stress, and be more patient with them if they are experiencing any of these emotions. 

Get In Touch With Your Child’s Feelings 

If you become acquainted with your child’s feelings, you’ll be much more likely to sense when big feelings – that usually result in a tantrum – are on their way. Getting to understand your child’s feelings can help them to understand them themselves. Talk to your child to understand how they’re feeling, and try to distract them when necessary. 

Find Their Tantrum Triggers

Identifying situations that may cause your child to have a tantrum is a great way to prevent tantrums from occurring.

For example, your child might regularly have tantrums if you’re grocery shopping, so you could try shopping after they’ve had a nap or a snack. Identify the triggers, and plan for the situation. 

Talk About Emotions 

It can be difficult for a child to regulate an emotion if they don’t understand the emotion they’re experiencing.

If you find that your child is experiencing a pretty strong emotion, encourage your child to talk about it, and explain what might have caused them to have the reaction. 

How To Deal With A Tantrum?

Stay Calm 

Even if you feel like you need to take a moment to yourself before addressing your child, take it. You don’t want to get angry in front of your child, as this will make the situation worse for both of you.

You are a role model for them, and they will learn their behaviour from you. So try and refrain from raising your voice, speak calmly and act slowly. 

Deal With Aggressive Behaviour Immediately

If your child is hitting, kicking, biting or throwing things during a tantrum, immediately remove them from the situation. You do not want your child to hurt others or even themselves. Make it clear to them that it’s not okay to hurt other people.

You may want to put them on a time out, and take away a privilege so that they learn that this is bad behaviour. Try and save time outs for aggressive or harmful behaviour, as using them often will reduce their significance. 

Ignore the Tantrum 

Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait the tantrum out. Stay close to your child, so that they know you’re there, but often your child will be able to regulate their emotions, and the tantrum will stop. If your child is physically endangering themselves, or others, intervene immediately. 

Let Your Child Be Angry 

Sometimes your child just needs to get their anger out, and that’s perfectly fine to do if they’re not hurting themselves or anyone else. By letting your child express their anger, you’re teaching them how to vent in a non-destructive way. Once their feelings are out, they’ll regain self control without getting into an argument with you. 

Create a Distraction 

Children tend to have pretty short attention spans, which means their attention can be easily diverted.

For example, if they’re getting upset in a grocery store because you won’t buy them something they want, think of something you do need to get and ask them if they want to help you pick out a flavor/option. 

Just remember to be consistent and calm with your approach. For example, if you sometimes give your child what they want during tantrums, but other times you don’t, it can be pretty confusing and the problem may become worse. 

How To Deal With A Tantrum As A Parent?

It can be very draining to deal with tantrums as a parent, and you may feel the need to intervene immediately.

If it’s safe to do – as in your child is not performing dangerous or aggressive behaviour – you can take a moment for yourself to take a deep breath before dealing with the situation. 

There are a few things that can help when dealing with tantrums. 

Develop A Strategy

Make a clear plan of how you want to handle a tantrum. 

Understand You Don’t Have Control Over Your Child’s Emotions

You can only keep your child safe, and guide them to reduce future tantrum outbursts. 

Understand Your Child Is Not Doing This On Purpose

Your child is still growing, and hasn’t yet understood how to regulate their emotions appropriately. 

Keep A Sense Of Humor

Do not laugh during a tantrum, however, as your child may think this is funny behavior, or they may become increasingly upset if they feel like you’re not taking them seriously. 

Ignore Judgement From Others

if your child is having a tantrum in a public space, try not to let any dirty looks from onlookers get to you. They’re either not parents, or it’s been a long time since they’ve been around young children they don’t realise it’s pretty common behaviour.