3 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Stop Having Tantrums

By in Parenting on 21 February 2008

We have all either been the parent in the grocery store who looks mortified while their child beats their fists, kicks, and screams on the floor – or we have witnessed this situation taking place. It is not pretty, it’s embarrassing, and it is a very difficult thing to handle. If your child has temper tantrums often, you are probably willing to exchange a limb to figure out how to stop them.

Below, you will find proven ‘tantrum-stopping methods’ that have been compiled from various research studies and surveys. Before you learn how to stop them, here are some ways to determine if your child is having a tantrum or if (s)he is just displaying typical toddler behavior.

What is a Temper Tantrum?

Tantrums typically occur in children between the ages of one and four. They are more common in children who haven’t learned to speak and cannot use words to convey their frustrations or emotions. Imagine being boiling mad at someone, but unable to use words to tell them you are angry. In fact, imagine you can’t write it down, and no matter how hard you try, they seem to misunderstand what you want. Do you feel like screaming, kicking, and throwing a fit? Most people would. This is what your child is doing when he or she has a tantrum. It is an undesirable way for your child to communicate anger, frustration, or stress – but a way nonetheless.

Signs that You Have a Full-Fledged Tantrum on Your Hands

Typical signs of a tantrum include screaming, kicking, and hitting (people or other objects). Your child may fall to the floor and kick and hit the floor, cry, yell, and even try to act violently toward others. Violence typically includes kicking people, hitting people, or even trying to bite or scratch people. This is completely different from a whining bit of attitude or a good howling session in children. Once you have identified a tantrum, you can dive into your memory in order to react in a way that will stop it.

How to Stop Your Child’s Tantrums

Child development expert David Leigh says, “How you respond to your child when he or she is having a tantrum is essential to stopping them.” Using the knowledge that only you have about your child as well as methods that have been proven through different studies, you can get your child’s tantrums under control. Here’s how:

1. Be a Great Example

There is an amazingly true quote by James Baldwin – “Children have never been very good at listening to their parents, but they never fail to imitate them.” Your child will absolutely learn from watching you. If you get overly angry at your child, do not scream at them; in fact, try to be as calm as possible. Say something like, “Mommy [Daddy] is so angry right now because you threw your food that she [he] wants to yell at you. I don’t yell, though, so I’ll go into the living room until I’m not angry anymore.” This shows your child that while it’s perfectly all right to be angry, yelling does not accomplish much. Being a great example to your child is one of the most important ways to stop the tantrums.

2. Identify Why Your Child is Having a Tantrum and Explain That it is Not Working

A lot of the time, children have tantrums to get what they want, to get attention, or because they are angry about something. Find out why by simply asking your child. Then explain to them that you understand what they want, and that it is okay to be disappointed. However, let them know the behavior they are displaying is not getting the desired results. If a child gets nothing from a tantrum, they will understand there isn’t much point in having one. When your child understands the fact that he or she is wasting their time with tantrums, they will stop.

3. Reward and Praise Your Child for Appropriate Behavior

While you don’t want to give your child a reward for each and every good thing they do, you should pick out great times to show your child that he or she is doing a great job. For example, if another child takes your child’s toy away from him or her, and your child asks for the toy to be given back, you can give a reward. You might say something like, “I noticed you asked nicely to have your toy back instead of screaming or biting again. You should be proud of yourself.” Then you could offer to buy them an ice cream or something similar.

Utilizing your best judgment in conjunction with findings of expert researchers and doctors will help you cut out those tantrums quickly. You and your child will be happier and healthier while your child learns to control his or her anger and emotions.

2 Comments For This Post

  1. eva says:

    I have twin 4year old boy they don,t talk good yet and all they do is scream and yell. What can i do i stop it? I listen to them, but there are times i still can,t understand them so they do what they do best is scream.I fill like pulling my hair out .

  2. Jane Heiza says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I know that you are frustrated, but your kids’ yelling or screaming may also be signs of frustration. They probably want to be understood, and so they try to communicate with you. If they can’t properly convey their desires, it can then easily lead to frustration.

    If they do such things just to take control, it may be best not to give any attention to them. Try not to give in and ignore the behavior. If you pay attention to their outbursts, they may only be encouraged to repeat the behavior because they got what they wanted —your attention.

    Kids can be difficult during this stage, but rest assured that this is just a phase that all kids go through. Spend time with them when you can, and teach them appropriate behavior during intervals when they are not being difficult. Hope this helps! Good luck!


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