Chad Kritzberger, M.D.
Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine (Children)
We’ve all been there. Your toddler is having a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store aisle. What do you do now? Truth be told, there is no perfect way to handle your child’s temper tantrum. These tips may offer some techniques you haven’t tried yet.
Let your child release their feelings. It’s okay to have feelings. But, we want to teach our children to express them in an appropriate way. How feelings are expressed through behavior is a choice.
Give your child an emotional vocabulary by giving the feelings names and encouraging your child to talk about how they are feeling. You could say, “I know you wanted that cereal. I understand that you’re angry, but I won’t let you throw a tantrum. Instead, you can stomp your feet and yell, ‘I’m mad!’”
Stay calm, and never, ever give in. If you reward tantrums with something your child wants, the tantrums are likely to continue.
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.”
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.