Some children throw tantrums frequently, and some never do
so. A temper tantrum is a sudden and unplanned display of anger by a child. Tantrums
are most often thrown by kids between the ages of one to four years. Tantrums
can cause frustration to a parent and leaves the parent thinking that only the
horns are missing from the child’s head.
What is a Temper Tantrum?
In the course of a typical tantrum, a child will cry,
scream, and swing their arms and legs. In more severe cases, a child may hold
their breath, kick, pinch and show aggressive behaviour. Violent tantrums like
these in which the child harms himself and others, could be a sign of a more serious
problem. But even tantrums which are violent are not necessarily a sign of
something negative. Tantrums are common in both boys and girls. Tantrums must
be dealt with properly at a young age itself or it may become a habit later on.
Causes of Temper Tantrums
Tantrums are thrown at times because the children are
hungry, tired or simply because they want to gain attention. Children throw
tantrums as a way of expressing their frustration when they do not get what
they desire (for example an object or a parent). Children may also throw
tantrums as response to a frustrating situation like when an older sibling
takes the child’s toy
away. Adults know suitable ways to deal with anger and frustration when they
are irritated. Unlike adults, children do not have the maturity and control.
How to Deal with Temper
As children grow older, their tantrums also decrease. As
their language skills develop and their ability to communicate needs becomes
better, you will see fewer and fewer tantrums. If tantrums are not dealt with
properly, children may continue the habit
as a way to manipulate people and get what they want. When toddlers realize that
the tantrums can get them more attention, they decide to throw them more.
What Parents Should Not Do
Do not punish the child. Dealing with the tantrum by
spanking the child or yelling can make the tantrum worse in the short term and
extend the behaviour in the long term.
Giving in to the child’s demands is even worse and must
definitely not be done. Giving in to the child’s demands will make the child
learn to manipulate adults and will become a habit which continues till
If you are in public, and your child throws a tantrum do not
over react with rage. Do not cave in to the child’s demands just because you
want to get over with it as fast as possible and avoid the embarrassment in
public. Do not let the disapproving looks of others affect your response to a
What a Parent Should Do
Do not give in to their demands if they throw a tantrum as
this could cause the problem to become worse. Stay calm and composed. Ignore
the child’s behaviour as much as possible till the tantrum ends. Do not reason
with your child during the tantrum as this teaches them that their tantrum is
getting them attention. If your child throws a tantrum in a public place, then
there are ways to handle it. Take your child to an isolated place if possible.
Wait till the tantrum subsides without reacting to it. Put them in the car or
anywhere else and wait or stand there till the tantrum stops. Tell them that he
or she can get up once this attitude has stopped. However, do not give severe
punishments which can cause harm to your child.
Teach your children the alternative to the problem. Tell
them that the behaviour is not appropriate. Toddlers understand much more than
they are able to express. Teach them that the next time they are angry, this is
not the way to react. Tell your child to verbally express their anger by saying
‘I am angry’, rather than throwing a tantrum.
Teach your child that under no circumstances is such
behaviour acceptable. Tell your the child that the result of his or her act is
‘No toffee for two days’, ‘No TV for two days.’ or ‘No football for two days.’
Stick to these commitments however hard it may be. If you do not stick to your
word, the child will begin to take these lightly and can continue to throw
tantrums in the future.
When to Call a Doctor
It is a good idea to get professional help if the tantrums
are causing the child to hurt themselves and others and persist often even after
the age of four.
When the frequency of the tantrums is increasing and your child is getting
destructive and violent you should speak to a doctor.