Temper Tantrums in Children

Sometimes called a “hissy fit” or simply a “tantrum,” temper tantrums are an emotional outburst that vents frustration and tests a child’s limits. Temper tantrums are extremely common in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years, but while they tend to decrease as they grow older, there is no set age limit on this type of outburst. Even adults have been known to have “meltdowns.”

While frustrating and embarrassing for a parent to deal with, it is a normal occurrence. Every child, no matter how mild-mannered, will have a temper tantrum at some point. Many toddlers will throw a tantrum at least once a week.

What Causes Temper Tantrums?

For most children, tantrums are a way to express their anger and test limits. Children do not have full control of their emotions, and may not have the words to properly express their anger to others. It can be a way of forcing others to give in to their wishes, or an attempt to assert control over a situation.

How To Deal With a Temper Tantrum

It is important to keep calm when your child throws a tantrum. There are many tactics for dealing with these emotional displays, including:

  • Ignoring the tantrum: Especially if you know it is a ploy to get attention or force his own way, ignoring the tantrum sends the message that this behavior will not get your child what he wants.
  • Distractions: Children have a short attention span. Sometimes it is possible to gently redirect a child’s attention long enough to distract them from their frustration and stop the outburst.
  • Leave the room: If your child is old enough, leave the room as soon as a tantrum begins. He is likely to follow you. Do not talk or react to your child until the tantrum is over.
  • Calm your child: If your child seems inconsolable, holding her tightly and reminding her that she is loved may help calm her down.

While giving in to your child’s demands can quickly stop a tantrum, it will not help you in the long run. They will learn that a tantrum is the best way to get what they want, and their frequency will increase.

If your child’s temper tantrums are becoming worse or more frequent, it is time to seek pediatric help. In the Laguna Beach and Orange County areas, Newport Children’s Medical Group’s team of experts can help answer any questions you may have about your child’s tantrums. We can also determine if the tantrums have a more serious underlying cause. Hearing and vision problems, language delays, learning disabilities, or conditions like autism can all increase a child’s frustration and trigger more tantrums. We partner with you to help both you and your child feel happier and more in control.

No matter what the cause of your child’s temper tantrums, you are not alone. If you have any questions or need advice about dealing with your child’s outbursts, Newport Children’s Medical Group in Laguna is here to help.