Strong screaming due to tantrum yelling high

Toddler Temper Tantrums

What is a temper tantrum?

Your toddler may scream, kick, throw themselves on the floor, bang their head, or even hold their breath.

Beautiful blond child crying and shouting, tantrum

Why do they have a temper tantrum?

A tantrum usually results from the child’s frustration at not getting what they want, or not being understood because they can’t express themselves well enough yet. It’s easier to accept if you understand that it’s purely a display of frustration. They’re trying to learn how to do it themselves, they’re not deliberately being naughty. Tantrums are a normal part of being a toddler. Toddlers are developing their independence and trying to gain control over what they do. “No-me do!” is a common statement.

If you can see their frustration building, try to distract them with another activity.

Avoiding tantrums

  • If you can see their frustration building, try to distract them with another activity.
  • Take the time to teach them how to do something (but do not do it for them). e.g. If you decide to take their spoon away because they’re making a mess, and they throw a tantrum, try a different tactic and give them food they can pick up easily with a spoon, together with some finger food, rather than feeding them yourself.
Single mother and little kid sitting on couch

Managing tantrums

  • Make sure your child is safe.
  • Stay calm – don’t hit or shout at them.
  • Ignore their behaviour – walk away. (But stay close enough to ensure their safety.)
  • If the tantrum is over in a few minutes, give them a cuddle and go on with what you were doing. Don’t talk about it.
  • If the tantrum doesn’t stop, then say you want them to stop by the time you’ve counted to three. Count slowly, out aloud. If the tantrum continues, try to pick them up gently, and take them to their room. Tell them quietly that when they’ve finished the tantrum – they can come out. There may be times you need to close the door.
  • If your child is too distressed to control themselves, or you feel they are not safe, then sit on the floor and hold them gently against you so their back is against your chest. This helps them to contain their emotions. Hold them gently until they can start to calm themselves.

The good news is that this stage will end as your child learns about their boundaries and becomes confident in their abilities.

Related articles