Your “Tool Box” for the Temper Tantrum

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Your "Tool Box" for the Temper Tantrum

Temper Tantrums in Children

You see it coming from a mile away. The arms cross, angry eyes, and sooner rather than later, there’s an ear-piercing wail … the classic temper tantrum. The temper tantrum can be a child’s weapon and a parent’s nightmare. Whether it’s in the comfort of one’s home or in the middle of the bread aisle at the supermarket, a child’s temper tantrum can be extremely frustrating and humiliating.

Depending on your child, tantrums can occur regularly or rarely (if there are any, hopefully, it’s the latter). Tantrums are most common in children up to 4 years of age. However, let’s not point the finger solely at the children, even an adult can have a tantrum.

What Is Causing The Temper Tantrum

Unlike adults, children lack the emotional maturity and language to constructively express their emotions and thoughts. This is why a meltdown may ensue. A tantrum is rather predictable when a parent turns down a child’s request for a new toy or if they tell the child to go to bed before they want to. Other times, it’s hard to tell what caused the outburst. These cases can be attributed to the inner temperament of the child.

Emotions will rage during these incidents for everyone involved. It is so important to address negative emotions and yet deal with them effectively. First and foremost, a parent has to take a couple of moments to do nothing. Yes, nothing. If you immediately respond to the outburst, you are more likely to react as irrationally as the child. After you’ve taken a few breaths to regroup, you need to identify your child’s emotions and the circumstances that precipitated the tantrum.

Some tantrums will be easy to deal with like when they are hungry or tired. Depending on what time of day it is, have your child take a nap or turn in early. If the tantrum is triggered by hunger, quickly ask your child what type of snack they want to grab their attention and eliminate those screeching screams and fussy moans.

Pretend They Are Invisible

One method to deal with temper tantrums is to ignore them (when appropriate). Many tantrums are attention seeking and a child will scream as long as well as loud as they believe it will take to get what they want. However, if you don’t have a reaction and pretend to carry on, it may cause them to give up.

Give Them Something To Think About

Ignoring a tantrum is not the best approach when your child is trying to express frustration, sadness or anger as a result of life’s experiences. In these times, try distraction. For example, if your child begins to fuss while grocery shopping, propose that you two pick out a snack for the drive home or have a contest to select the best piece of fruit (a diversion and you can still get your shopping done). Giving something for your child to think about can take their attention away from the trigger of the tantrum.

Be Ready For a Temper Tantrum

One of the best pieces of advice that parents can be provided is to have a “tool box”: an arsenal of resources to use that best handles the tantrums that arise. Every parent and child is different. How you approach a tantrum will vary based on your child’s needs and personality. Don’t be discouraged if one method fails while it works for your best friend. Tantrums don’t last forever; these years will make you laugh down the road, but finding the best way to deal with them as they happen now will keep you from losing your cool and remaining sane.



Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.


  1. This was awesome, Anna! About 15 years ago a girlfriend of mine asked me to pick up and watch her daughters for the evening. No problem, I was totally excited as we were great pals for a long time at that point. I took them to one of the fun centers (arcade, etc) here in Reno. I told the younger daughter one “no” to something and she has a complete, psychotic, 5 year old meltdown. Aka – a tantrum.

    Her older sister (by 2 years) grasped my hand.

    She said, “Follow me, Mike!”
    She whisked me around the corner of a pillar to watch and observe as scowling parents and security guards glared at ME!
    Me, to the sister holding my hand, “What are we doing?!”
    Her, “This is what my mom does…”
    *sigh* 🙂

    • Meltdowns aren’t fun at all in public. Other parents can usually sympathize though. I know I do when I see some kid blowing a gasket.

  2. Some great advice I like this so much I am sharing it on Facebook, for my daughter who is have problems with my granddaughter to read.

  3. Anna, thanks for the great article. I have 4 and 6 year olds and have to deal with meltdowns on a weekly basis. Will try some of your recommendations, hopefully this will help.

  4. Susan Cooper says:

    Oh where was this post when my daughters were younger? 🙂 Great tips…. 🙂

  5. Olga Sotova says:

    I had problems with my son until he was 7 years old, he was having meltdowns both at home and in public. So when he had one at the supermarket, I decided to join him just to show what it feels like. I was so “real” that he stopped immediately and got so embarrassed (by my behavior) that we had no more meltdowns in public for the past 6 months.

  6. Jill Portilla says:

    Wonderful post! My son is 3 and a huge fan of tantrums 🙂 I definitely agree with ignoring them when home and distracting while at the grocery store!

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