Sara Herrmann, M.D.
Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine (Children), Primary Care
Speaking of HealthQ&A: Constipation in childrenMarch 03, 2021
We’ve all been there. Your toddler is having a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store aisle. What do you do now? Temper tantrums are an immature way of expressing negative feelings.
These 4 tips may offer some techniques to help your child channel their feelings in a positive way:
1. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings.
Give your child an emotional vocabulary by giving the feelings names. You could say, "I know you wanted that cereal. I understand that you're angry. Instead of screaming say: 'I'm mad.'"
2. Stay calm.
If you reward tantrums with something your child wants, the tantrums are likely to continue. Try redirecting your child to a different activity, or leave the room until they regain control.
3. Keep the child safe while not giving too much attention.
When your child quiets down, you might say, "Tantrums won't get my attention. If you want to tell me something, you have to use your words."
4. Try to keep your child on schedule with regular meals/snacks and sleep routine.
Children may have more tantrums when they are hungry or tired. Once your child is over their tantrum, come back together lovingly. To do this, you need to validate their feelings, help them process the situation and offer unconditional love. Try saying, "You were so angry. It looked like you felt…" and "I am here, and I always love you, even when you are screaming and upset."
As your child’s self-control improves, tantrums should become less common. Most children begin having fewer tantrums by age 3 1/2. If you're having concerns about your child's tantrums, talk with a health care provider.