Temper tantrums are a normal part of childhood development. Children between 1 and 3 years old have difficulty expressing their emotions effectively, so they express them by crying, screaming, and sometimes even stomping their feet. Once children develop their vocabulary, they will begin to use words to communicate instead of temper tantrums.
With a little planning, there are some things you can do to stop a tantrum before it happens, such as:
It's difficult knowing how to respond to a child who may be on the floor kicking, screaming, and crying. While you can't reason with a child in the midst of a tantrum, there are some things you can do.
Because temper tantrums are a normal part of childhood development, you should never punish your child for having a temper tantrum. Children need to be able to express their emotions. Punishing a child for having a temper tantrum sends the message that anger or frustration should be kept inside, which is unhealthy.
You shouldn't punish your child, but you also should not reward him. Don't give in to a temper tantrum. Providing your child with the toy he is screaming for only teaches the child that his communication methods worked.
While temper tantrums are difficult to quell, they are also a stage that your child must go through. Most children outgrow them once they are able to communicate effectively using a vocabulary that you help them build over time.
If you are concerned about the frequency, intensity, or duration of your child's temper tantrums, it is best to discuss them with your child's doctor.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Canadian Institute of Child Health
Kids Health & Safety
Temper tantrums. HealthyChildren.org website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/pages/Temper-Tantrums.aspx. Updated May 19, 2011. Accessed August 11, 2012.
Temper tantrums. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/tantrums.html. Updated January 2012. Accessed August 11, 2012.
Last reviewed August 2012 by Brian P. Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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