Seeing your toddler frustrated, kicking, crying and screaming is enough to make you want to throw a temper tantrum yourself. But temper tantrums are a normal part of child development, so you don’t really have a choice but to cope with them as best as you can.

So before you throw one yourself or worse, say or do something to your child you’ll regret later on, try to find out why your kid is acting up so you can better respond to them.

Why is your child throwing a temper tantrum?

Temper tantrums usually start when small kids want to avoid doing something, want something they’re not allowed to do or have, are looking for attention, or are frustrated, unwell, tired or hungry. Parents, at a gut level, are aware of this, so you need to take it easy on activities that could spark a temper tantrum. This is something that you need to know and understand before you go to your local CBT therapist in Westport and book an appointment for your child.

Often, the root of a temper tantrum is a child’s desire to be more independent, which means that fits usually occur when parents try to set limits and enforce them. To try and avoid a temper tantrum as much as possible, keep the following simple rules in mind.

  • Tell your child what you need them to do. Do this as clearly as possible. Don’t ask, but state. For instance, instead of “Should we go now?” try “We need to go now.”
  • Offer guidance. Explain to your child why you’re telling them to do something or help them get started on it.
  • Give your kid a choice. This will involve compromise, but you’ll get what you want eventually and help make your feel child that they have some control.
  • Avoid hurrying your child along. Recognize that they might be doing something that’s important, too. That being said, try giving them a 5-minute warning to condition themselves for what they need to do.

How should you respond to your child’s meltdowns?

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The first rule of weathering a temper tantrum is always to stay calm and collected, and then respond appropriately. Here’s how.

  • Refrain from engaging. This is what your child wants, but this will only worsen the situation if you threaten your kid of what they stand to lose if they don’t stop.
  • Stand your ground. As long as you’re completely certain that your child is safe, just give them a pat and say you’ll only talk to them once they have calmed down. But if your child hits, kick or bites someone, your kid might need some “quiet time” or “time-out.”
  • Never give in. What you don’t want most of all is to inadvertently reward their behavior by giving a reward so that they will stop or giving them what they want.

Temper tantrums are usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if your child’s tantrums last for more than 15 minutes, continue after preschool, happen multiple times daily, or involve injury to themselves or others, it’s best that you inform your child’s pediatrician and consider treatment.