Five Tips to Prevent Temper Tantrums in Children

February 22, 2019
Temper tantrums are part of children's emotional development. They arise because children begin to feel emotions they don't know and can't control. The good thing is that you can help your children by avoiding situations that trigger them.

From the age of 2 to 5, any child can have temper tantrums. Those outbursts of anger and frustration make parents feel guilty and fill them with doubt. However, it’s possible to help prevent temper tantrums in children.

Ideally, you should avoid situations that trigger these outbursts. Sometimes this may work for you, and other times it won’t. In any case, don’t despair. Staying calm is the key.

temper tantrums

Five Tips to Prevent Temper Tantrums in Children

Temper tantrums are the result of children’s emotional development. Children begin to feel, recognize, and express emotions like anger or frustration. Although they’ll be able to control them later on, when they’re young, they still don’t know how to manage these emotions well.

From the age of two, children also begin to feel autonomous. They realize that what they want doesn’t always match what their parents want. Temper tantrums arise precisely because they want to impose their brand new “will” and put their parents to the test.

Third, you have to understand that tantrums are more common in some children than in others. Each child has a temper, which will mark how they react to the emotions they feel. Even siblings who are raised in the same way may have different kinds of tantrums.

An upset girl with her parents.

Here are five basic tips to prevent temper tantrums in children. We hope you can put them into practice before your child lets themselves get carried away by their emotions.

Read more here: The Harmful Effects of Physical Punishment for Children

1. Avoid unnecessary defiance

There are things that your child “has to do” or “can’t do.” However, evaluate if it’s necessary for them to do or not do “it” at any given moment. Maybe you can let them “be in control” for a few minutes and then do what you asked them to.

For example, it’s winter, so your child has to wear a coat. The child refuses. If you can still wait a few minutes before they have to put their coat on, why pressure them into putting it on now?

When you push them into a corner, they explode because they have no other option. Let them “decide for a few minutes not to put their coat on. Then, when they start to feel really cold, put their coat on.

2. Anticipate frustrating situations

If you have a long day of errands with your child, prepare yourself. Take some toys, water, and snacks with you. A long day of boring activates may lead to a temper tantrum.

If they’re doing something they like, like playing in the park, but it’s about time to leave, tell them in advance that you’ll have to leave the park soon. Don’t take them by surprise with an abrupt departure.

Kids playing in the park.

Sometimes, we cause temper tantrums because we subject children to unnecessary stress, to situations that they don’t understand or dislike. Some parents only realize that they could have avoided the situation after their child is in the middle of a tantrum.

3. Be careful with the word “no”

Parents’ continued use of the word “no” causes many tantrums. Parents’ refusal leads to rebelliousness. Assess when you can say “yes.” Also, assess when, instead of saying “no,” you can offer an acceptable alternative.

There are obvious situations where you have to say “no.” If the child is introducing a metallic object into an electrical outlet, “no” is nonnegotiable.

However, not all situations are this extreme or dangerous. Assess the situations where you can give in to their petitions.

You should also read: What to do about Disobedient Children

4. Set clear and reasonable boundaries

Long before a tantrum arises, you must establish the boundaries that children should respect and must learn to adapt to.

Just as you can’t control everything the child does or tries because excessive control hinders their desire to experiment with their independence, you also can’t raise them with too much freedom. Children should know that there are limits that they shouldn’t cross and that, if they do, they’ll be consequences.

5. Ensure their physical well-being

Although temper tantrums are emotional outbursts, they can be caused by physical ailments. A child who’s past their lunchtime or nap time can have a temper tantrum because they don’t know how to manage or communicate their physical discomfort.

A mother consoling her daughter.

This is why routines are your allies. Make sure to respect their naps, meals, snacks, and bathroom schedules. This regularity makes your child feel secure and provides the rest and satisfaction they need. This way, you avoid triggering temper tantrums for these reasons.

When a Tantrum Starts

Despite having followed all these recommendations, a temper tantrum can still arise. The first thing you should do is stay calm. Getting upset will only make things worse.

Usually, tantrums even surprise children due to all the emotions they feel. Thus, it’s important that you ensure they don’t hurt themselves or others during a tantrum. Your child will need your help to calm down.

Speak slowly and in a very low voice. Explain what’s happening to them, what’s your position, and invite them to calm down. Avoid giving in to what they’re asking because they’ll get the wrong message that they can get what they want with a temper tantrum.

If you’re in a public place, someone will probably tell you to ignore your child or even to punish them. However, we reiterate that you shouldn’t pay attention to those opinions because temper tantrums represent emotional overflow.

Ignoring or hitting your child in the middle of a tantrum won’t do you any good. If you do this, you’ll only teach them to repress their emotions, which always has dire consequences.

Your child needs you to calm down, so don’t deny them your love.

  • Eresmama.com Las etapas del desarrollo emocional del niño [Online] Available at: eresmama.com/las-etapas-del-desarrollo-emocional-del-nino/
  • Eresmama.com Establecer límites en la educación de los niños [Online] Available at: eresmama.com/establecer-limites-la-educacion-los-ninos/