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Temper Tantrums

You’ve probably heard of the term TERRIBLE TWOS, otherwise known as the time parents start to feel the heat for not being able to manage their child. As it turns out, after 18 months toddlers just start to develop social and emotional skills. However they are still unfamiliar with the new emotions and have yet to master the art of communication hence they may have uncontrollable bursts of frustration otherwise known as “tantrums”.

What are tantrums?

Temper tantrums are essentially your kids’ frustration/anger episodes. It comes in all sorts of behaviours: screaming, crying, flailing, kicking, biting, shouting.

Is it normal for my kid to have temper tantrums?

Yes! Temper tantrums can be seen as early as 12 months up up till they turn 5 years of age, here’s the breakdown :

2 – 3 years = typical onset of tantrums

3 – 4 years = your child hasn’t properly learned how to cope with frustration

5+ years =  if it lasts longer than 15minutes and occurs more than 5x a day, then you might be dealing with something more serious

But in general, some forms of tantrum behaviour may even be seen in older children, so don’t worry too much unless it is in an excessive amount!

How do I prevent tantrums?

Any parent knows, once the tantrum starts, it STARTS. It is difficult to stop a tantrum once they start, so here are some tips as to how to prevent them :

  1. Identify what triggers your child – it is important to take into account your child’s personal triggers. Some triggers could be as simple as taking the toy away from your child too soon, or knowing your child’s limits.
  2. Consistency is KEY – having a daily routine is essential, especially since most temper tantrums happen when children are hungry or tired! So, try to keep your child on a schedule as much as you can
  3. Carry snacks – as mentioned before, most temper tantrums happen when children are hungry, so be sure to have snacks with you to avoid them!
  4. Childproof your house – children may get frustrated if they keep getting in trouble for getting into places they aren’t supposed to or playing with things they aren’t supposed to.
  5. Give your child plenty of positive attention – there are plenty of forms of positive attention, verbal praise, prize stickers, private parent-child time

What to do during tantrums?

  1. Remain calm and ignore the tantrum if possible – most times ignoring an outburst does wonders.
  2. Try and distract your child – depending on why your child is upset, you may have to intervene with a snack or a nap.
  3. Use time-out wisely – there are definitely cases where time-out is needed, especially if it is health hazardous (kicking or hitting)
  4. Do not reward your child’s temper tantrum – if you give in, it will only prove to them that pulling temper tantrums is an effective way of getting what they want


Daniels, E., Mandleco, B. and Luthy, K.E. (2012), Assessment, management, and prevention of childhood temper tantrums. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 24: 569-573.

Grover, G. (2008). Temper tantrums. In C. Berkowitz(Ed.), Pediatrics: A primary care approach . (pp. 199–201). Philadelphia , PA : W. B. Saunders.

Schonbeck, J. (2006). Acting out. In K. Krapp & J. Wilson (Ed.), Gale encyclopedia of children’s health: Infancy through adolescence (pp. 13– 17). Detroit : Gale.

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