Temper tantrums

Temper tantrums usually start at around 18 months and are very common at that age. One in five two-year-olds has a temper tantrum every day. One reason for this is that two-year-olds want to express themselves but find it difficult.

They feel frustrated and the frustration comes out as a tantrum. Once a child can talk more they’re less likely to have tantrums. Tantrums are far less common by the age of four.

These ideas may help you to cope with tantrums when they happen:

Find out why the tantrum is happening. Your child may be tired or hungry, in which case the solution is simple. They could be feeling frustrated or jealous, maybe of another child. They may need time, attention and love, even though they’re not being very lovable.

Understand and accept your child’s anger. You probably feel the same way yourself at times, but you can express it in other ways.

Find a distraction. If you think your child is starting a tantrum, find something to distract them with straightaway. This could be something you can see out of the window. Say, for example, “Look! A cat”. Make yourself sound as surprised and interested as you can.

Wait for it to stop. Losing your temper or shouting back won’t end the tantrum. Ignore the looks you get from people around you and concentrate on staying calm. Giving in won’t help in the long term. If you’ve said no, don’t change your mind and say yes just to end the tantrum. Otherwise, your child will start to think that tantrums can get them what they want. For the same reason, it doesn’t help to bribe them with sweets or treats. If you’re at home, try going into another room for a while. Make sure your child can’t hurt themselves first.

Be prepared when you’re out shopping. Tantrums often happen in shops. This can be embarrassing, and embarrassment makes it harder to stay calm. Keep shopping trips short. Start by going out to buy one or two things only, and build up from there. Involve your child in the shopping by talking about what you need and letting them help you.

Try holding your child firmly until the tantrum passes. Some parents find this helpful, but it can be hard to hold a struggling child. It usually works when your child is more upset than angry and when you’re feeling calm enough to talk to them gently and reassure them.

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Maya Expert Team