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Dealing with Toddler Temper Tantrums

Tantrums are common at this age because toddlers are becoming independent and developing their own wants, needs, and ideas. However, they are not yet able to express their wants and feelings with words. Most children outgrow tantrums by age 4. It is often easier to prevent tantrums than to deal with them once they get going.

Try these tips:

  • Direct your child’s attention to something else.
  • Give your child a choice in small matters.
  • Stick to a daily routine that balances fun activities with enough rest and healthy food.
  • Anticipate when your child will be disappointed. (“We are going to buy food for dinner. We wont’ be buying cookies, but you can help me pick out some fruit”)
  • Praise your child when he or she shows self-control and expresses feelings with words.

If you cannot prevent the tantrum, here are some tips for dealing with it:

  • Say what you expect from your child and have confidence that your child will behave.
  • Remain calm. You are the role model for your child.
  • Holding your child during a tantrum may help a younger child feel more secure and calm down more quickly.
  • Take your child to a quiet place where he or she can calm down safely. Speak softly or play soft music.
  • Some children throw tantrums to seek attention. Try ignoring the tantrum, but pay attention to your child after he or she calms down.
  • Resist overreacting to tantrums. Do not let your child’s behavior cause you to lose control

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2010 Resource Guide for National Child Abuse and Prevention Month. “Dealing with Temper Tantrums.” Child Welfare information Gateway. 23 November 2010.