How to Deal With Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums are every parent’s worst nightmare, especially in public. Whether your child has already had a tantrum or is approaching the age for tantrums, you may want to know, how do you calm down a meltdown?

Toddler tantrums can happen without warning and usually when you’re at your least prepared! 

If you have just had a baby, you may need to prepare for tantrums in as little as one year. Luckily, tantrums in toddlers is just part of child development and is normal toddler behavior. 

Take a deep breath and read on to learn how you can deal with temper tantrums.

At What Age Do Tantrums Stop?

The good news is that tantrums usually stop after age 4, but they may still occur in some children. Having tantrums is normal for children from 12 months to 4 years old as they unable to express their feelings using words.

As their vocabulary grows and their language skills improve, they will be better able to ask for things or otherwise express a need. However, children with learning or communication disabilities may still have tantrums until they acquire the vocabulary they need.

If your child continues to have frequent tantrums after 4 years old, you should seek help from your child’s doctor. Then, you can figure out if there’s something else going on.

How Do You Handle a Meltdown?

To deal with temper tantrums, understand that they’re normal for toddlers. Stay as calm as possible, take a deep breath and reassure your child that you are there for them. Engage with them and give them a distraction, such as there favorite toy or making them laugh or smile. And remember that toddler temper tantrums all do come to en end, eventually! 

As a parent, it’s important to exhibit positive behaviors when your child is having a tantrum. Remember that strong emotions are at play and your child isn’t old enough to regulate or understand them. 

Positive attention will help your child understand that you are there to help and support them. 

Stay Calm

It can be hard to stay calm when your child has a tantrum, especially in public. The tantrum can be annoying for others and embarrassing for you. However, the calmer you can be, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with the meltdown.

Please remember, if your child has a tantrum in public, this does not make you a bad parent. Your toddler is just experiencing intense emotions and although this is a frustrating event for you, maintaining positive parenting is the way to go.

Some parents wonder, is it best to ignore temper tantrums? Ignoring a child can be effective as long as both parents and all other caregivers agree to do it. The one exception is if your child is doing something dangerous or exhibiting aggressive behavior, which is something you should never ignore. Continuous severe tantrums will need to be discussed with your doctor or a child psychologist. They will then be able to give an assessment of temper tantrums and help reduce severe tantrums.

Sometimes, the voice of a parent can be enough to calm your child down. But you’ll need to have a calm, stress-free tone for that to work.

Go Somewhere Quiet

Whether you’re at home or in public, you may want to go to a different room with your child. If you go somewhere quiet, you can take away the crowd. Since many tantrums stem from a desire for attention, not having that may help your child calm down.

You can ignore the child once you get to a quiet spot. Then, they may get over the tantrum on their own. If they don’t, you can choose to keep ignoring the child. However, the tantrum continuing could be a sign that your child is tired, hungry, or needs something else.

Distract Your Child

Another option to try when your child has a temper tantrum is to distract them. That may be as easy as telling a joke to get your child to laugh or smile. But you may need to do a bit more and use a distraction like:

  • Give them a toy
  • Offer them a snack
  • Let them drink some water

If you can recognize the triggers of a tantrum, such as if your child is hungry, use that. No matter how you distract your child, try to do it quickly. And if you can also take them somewhere quiet, that may help even more.

How to Prevent Tantrums

Knowing how to deal with temper tantrums is great, but prevention is even better. If you can prevent a tantrum, you won’t have to worry about stopping it.

Tantrum triggers are usually one of 3 things, they are tired, they are hungry, they need the toilet. Let them have a cat nap if they need to catch up on some sleep. Offer healthy snacks frequently throughout the day and build that into their routine. 

Consider the following options to help reduce the chance of your child having a meltdown.

Maintain Their Routine

It may not always be possible, but keep your child’s routine as similar as you can from one day to the next. Make sure they get to eat and sleep at the same times so that they don’t get too hungry or tired.

If you just stopped having them take naps, allow them to still have some quiet time. You can relax together, or you can let your child do some quiet playing. That way, your child will still get to relax, which can help them ease into not taking a nap.

Give Choices

Your child may not always be able to choose what they want to wear or do. However, give them a few options when you can, such as with a bedtime story:

  • Goodnight Moon
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Winnie the Pooh

Ask them for their opinion in a helpful tone rather than a judgmental one.

That way, your child can choose something they enjoy. Even if it’s not the story you want to read that night, give it a chance. You may save yourself from having to deal with a temper tantrum. So think about the choices available and offer them to your child accordingly.

Don’t Fight Every Battle

As a parent, you may need to decide if a battle is worth fighting with your child. For example, your child may need to wear a specific outfit if they attend a school or daycare with a strict dress code. These outfit battles are common triggers in our household. Childhood temper tantrums are part of growing up for healthy children. 

However, consider if the tantrum is really worth getting your way over your child’s way. Sometimes, it may be necessary, such as if your child refuses to go to bed. Your toddler might be experiencing a lack of control over their lives. Letting them help out with the decision making process can also help reduce emotional meltdowns. But other times, your child may be able to choose, such as when it comes to an outfit or a small snack.

Final Thoughts

Every parent should know how to deal with temper tantrums. This article should give you an idea of methods that can work to reduce child tantrums and give you, the parent, a sense of control. Whether this is your first child or not, you can’t expect tantrums to never happen.  Remember that as your child’s verbal skills improve, as will the tantrums reduce. Parenting of toddlers is a daily battle and what was once a simple trip to a shop can become an immensely challenging task. However, you can learn how to calm your child down after a meltdown. And you can figure out how to reduce the amount of tantrums in the future.

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