How to tackle temper tantrums

Sometimes, you have a feeling its coming. Other times, it surprises everyone in its vicinity with its fury and intensity.

We're not talking about not a thunderstorm, tornado or flood. It's an emotional hurricane - the temper tantrum.

You are not alone if you are struggling to deal with temper tantrums from your child. All caregivers have struggled with children throwing fits - at home and in public.

"Tantrums are perfectly normal," Jen Best, certified family life educator with Iowa State University Extension. "I'd be more worried if kids don't ever have temper tantrums."

But normal or not, they can cause stress and frustration for the child, the parents, and anyone else in the vicinity.

So here are some tips from a few Quad-City area experts to prevent temper tantrums and even stop them while they are happening.


Consider the reasons.

Just like everything in parenting, tantrums happen for a variety of reasons. So experts say the effective way to deal with tantrums really depends on the 'why.'

It's important to understand that few issues in parenting are one-size-fits-all. The same is true with tantrums. So by understanding the impetus for the tantrum, you are on your way to a resolved issue.

"Children are not born knowing how to be frustrated," says Jennifer. "They are learning skills."

Don't teach your child not to be angry, teach your child HOW to be angry. Here are a few books to help you teach your child to identify emotions and help them understand how to cope with the.

Tantrums are most likely to happen when toddler are hungry, tired or overexcited. So, those are good places to start.

Be consistent.

Why do you think your child is throwing a temper tantrum? Typically the answer is simple: it has worked in the past.

Kids (and all humans for that matter) are programmed in a similar way. They do what works for them and they stop doing what doesn't work.

"In general, kids do not repeat behavior that doesn't work for them," Jen explains. "If it doesn't get them what they need, then they won't repeat."

Sue Klingaman, early childhood mental health consultant at Robert Young Center, agrees. "When kids think you will give in, they fight longer and harder."

So, if you are consistent and don't give your child what he wants every time a tantrum strikes, he'll stop throwing fits. Because he knows it won't work.

This takes time. It doesn't happen in one experience. But it's probably worth it for a scream-free trip to Target.

Remain calm.

The best thing you can do during a tantrum is staying calm. Shaking, spanking or screaming tends to make the tantrum worse, not better.

Think of your reaction as a teachable moment between you and your child. This is showing your son or daughter how to manage emotions in a healthy way. And if you don't want your kids screaming and hitting when they are upset, why would you do it?