It is normal for young children to have temper tantrums. It is one way to express their anger, disappointment, or frustration. However, children without the skills to calm themselves when things do not go their way are often called bad-tempered, strong willed, or difficult. Children need to learn how to express and calm themselves in order to play games, to participate in sports, to get along with siblings and friends, and to do well in school.
As a parent, you can help your child learn that he can express feelings without having to scream, cry, whine, stomp, throw things, or be destructive. Here are a few ideas for teaching your child self-calming skills:
You can start doing something that your child might enjoy such as playing with his favorite toy or eating a snack that he likes. After your child calms down, share the toy or snack. After your child is quiet and has gotten over whatever upset him, you could also give him a hug and praise him for calming down. You are giving your child the chance to learn self-control, a skill he will use throughout his life.
Since tantrums are a normal part of child development, sometimes they can’t be prevented. Here are some ideas that might help reduce how often your child has tantrums and how severe the tantrums are.
Some children may continue to have tantrums in spite of your efforts to teach self-calming skills. If your child's tantrums get worse as he gets older, seem full of rage, involve hurting himself or others, or are only one of many behavior problems, contact your healthcare provider for help.