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Tips for dealing with temper tantrums

Child development

There is no doubt dealing with temper tantrums can be one of the most confronting, and embarrassing, aspects of being a parent.

So what can you do about it?

Experts believe that handling temper tantrums can depend on the age of the child, and the way in which you deal with children can lead to different outcomes.

While we all know about the terrible twos, tantrums can often start at about one to two years old when crying turns to frustration.

This isn’t about getting attention, it’s all about an emotional outburst because the child can’t do what they want to do, or communicate what they need to do.

The best way to deal with this type of outburst is through distraction – take the child’s mind off what they were getting upset about and move them on to another activity. Helping the child complete the activity can also work in this situation.

If you’re out and about it’s best to make sure you have everything except the kitchen sink packed in your bag – bottles, snacks, toys and books are enough to keep most little ones interested.

By the time children reach about two and half years old, they’re starting to demand attention when they throw a tantrum. Even though it’s called the terrible twos, this stage can last well in their fours and fives.

At this age, children have tantrums when they don’t get what they want, and while it’s all too easy to give in and hand them the chocolate they want, it’s not the best way to teach them to stop doing it. 

The best way to deal with these little outbursts is to give them as little attention as possible. If you’re at home, this is easy because you don’t have to worry about other people judging you for their noise.

But if you’re out and about in public, try to move somewhere until the tantrum finishes. If you are in a supermarket, try to leave until it’s over.


Tips for dealing with tantrums


  • Stay calm. If you lose it and start yelling, you’re behaving just like they are and so they think their behaviour is appropriate.
  • Get down to your child’s level and look them in the eye. This shows them you are listening and that you are trying to understand them.
  • Use positive reinforcement when your child is behaving. This gives them attention without them having to demand it and may help avoid tantrums.
  • If you’ve promised your child a go on the merry go round at the shopping centre, stick to it. If you don’t, a tantrum is a sure thing.
  • Be strong and don’t give in. If your child is having a tantrum because they want chocolate, don’t give it to them because it’s easy. No should mean no.
  • Try not to worry about what other people think. Your focus should be on your child.


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