About 80% of all 2- to 4-year-olds have tantrums. If your child is having a tantrum, stay calm. Your calm reaction to an emotional outburst can help her settle down and provide her with a positive model.
Keep in mind that tantrums are not intentional or planned—they are the natural, uncontrolled outpouring of emotions your child is having difficulty dealing with.
Causes of tantrums include:
- Transitions in a child’s day or changes in a routine
- The need to be in control, combined with the frustration of not being able to verbalize desires clearly
- Tiredness or fatigue
How to Handle a Tantrum
If you see a tantrum coming on, try letting your toddler know that you understand what he’s feeling. Sometimes acknowledging those feelings is all that’s needed to calm him down and move on.
If a tantrum starts, the best thing to do is to make sure your toddler is safe and then try your best to ignore the tantrum. When it stops, pay positive attention to your toddler, rewarding him for getting the tantrum under control. Don’t have a conversation afterward, just move on.
If your toddler has a tantrum in public, patience, understanding, and a willingness to leave will get you both through it.
Heading Off a Tantrum
You know that your toddler’s building agitation is usually due to frustration and feeling out of control. But how do you stop it from becoming a full-blown tantrum?
Try letting him know that you understand what he’s feeling. “I know you’re upset that it’s bedtime and you want to keep playing.”
Sometimes acknowledging those feelings is all that’s needed to calm him down and move on. “Let’s have fun getting ready to go to bed. We can brush our teeth together and then read a story.”