Perhaps no single set of skills is more important for your child than coping skills. Coping skills are needed to learn to walk, to play a game, to participate in sports, to get along with siblings, and to do homework. Children with good coping skills have fewer behavioral and social problems.
Normal children throw tantrums. It is one way that they express their anger, disappointment, or frustration. As a parent, you can help your child learn that he CAN handle minor upsets like being told "no" without having to scream, cry, stomp, throw things, or be destructive.
Example: If your child cannot get to the next level on her video game and she screams at the game, let her keep playing without your help. If given the chance to figure it out, most children will try again. And, with repeated practice, they will see that they are successful at calming themselves down AND figuring out the problem. As they develop these calming skills they begin to feel far less dependent upon you — they come to know that they can do it.
Example: As soon as your child is quiet and has gotten over whatever upset her, give her a hug and praise her for handling such a frustrating problem so well. Be sure to keep it as brief and as low-key as possible so that your child can get back to task at hand.
Avoid saying anything until your child has calmed himself down. Trying to talk to or reason with a child who is in the middle of a tantrum usually makes things worse. Comments meant to calm your child can increase your child's anger and get in the way of letting your child learn how to calm down on his own.
Children have to learn to calm themselves. Your major role is in deciding when they can have a chance to practice their calming skills. When your child starts screaming or getting mad, quickly evaluate the situation to see if it is a serious problem, such as an injury. If it is a simple problem, such as the blocks falling down, let your child try to handle it on his own.
Once you see that your child can quiet himself, it will be easier for you to stay out of the situation. A child's energy for a long tantrum almost always comes from the adult who is trying to help stop it. Without that extra attention your child's tantrum will wind down.
Most children outgrow temper tantrums by the time they are 4 years of age. Some children may continue to have tantrums in spite of your best efforts to teach self-calming skills. If your child's tantrums seem full of rage, involve hurting others, or are only one of many behavior problems, contact your healthcare provider during office hours for further help.
Since tantrums are a normal part of child development, sometimes they can’t be avoided. Here are some ideas that might help reduce how often your child throws tantrums and how severe the tantrums are.
Call your provider if: