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Temper Tantrums… Prevention & Solutions that Really Work!

Temper tantrums are ugly, embarrassing, and unfortunately, part of life with young children. From obstinate tears and wailing to the full-blown, on-the-floor flailing, a tantrum is not a child’s best moment. To help combat these behaviors, let’s look at why tantrums happen along with steps to prevent them.

There are three basic types of temper tantrums: basic needs, developmental, and the all-too-familiar power struggle.

Basic need tantrums
are often schedule-related. When the to-do list is long, it’s easy for young children to get fatigued, especially if activities run into naptime. Hunger is another basic need that can cause a tantrum. When you see the meltdown coming, help your child to express his need. Identify the reason by asking questions, “Are you tired? Would you like a snack?” Empathize with the child and provide a solution. Have a snack handy and a time to nap planned.

Developmental temper tantrums
result from a child’s rapid rate of growth and learning. When attempting to learn new skills, children can get frustrated. To keep your child from getting overwhelmed, break tasks into smaller chunks, and have realistic expectations.

Power struggle tantrums are often the most difficult to deal with as a parent. When your child is vying for control, offer more independence when and where it’s appropriate. Using “Yes, when…” as opposed to “No, not until…” will help alleviate the problem too. When you help your child figure out how he can help himself, you both win. As an added benefit, Mom and Dad become teammates, instead of obstacles to what the child desires.

It’s very easy to let the child’s mood and behavior totally take over the parent. “When a child is in the middle of a tantrum, it is the parent’s responsibility not to get hijacked into the emotional angst the child is experiencing,” (Raising Little Kids with Big Love Wildenberg & Danielson p. 12

Think to yourself, “I wonder what is driving him to behave this way” rather than “My child’s behavior is upsetting or inconveniencing me.”

Give your child control of the tantrum as if it’s something he can take charge of by himself. For example, if you’re home or at grandma’s house, send him away from the family for a time to regroup. Once the emotions are under control, allow the child to return.

With temper tantrums it’s important to choose your battles well. If wearing sunscreen is an issue, give an ultimatum, “No pool time without sunscreen.” If wearing pajamas to the grocery store is not what you would prefer, consider letting it go.

Don’t give into anger or manipulation on the part of the child, or it will be worse next time. If a behavior works, the child will continue to use it.

Support other moms and dads too. When you see another parent struggling with a child in a full-out tantrum, offer a smile. We’ve all been there at one time or another. We could all use a little encouragement.


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About the Author

Becky Danielson, M.Ed.

Becky Danielson, M.Ed.

Becky Danielson, M.Ed., has two of the best job descriptions, wife and mom. She is also a licensed Parent & Family Educator, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and the co-author of Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love along with Study Guides. The series is available on Amazon. Becky and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Subscribe to the parenting newsletter at FaithFirstParent.com and the quarterly newsletter at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com for parenting tips, strategies, and resources to equip and encourage you on your parenting journey.


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