Triumphing Over Tantrums

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By JustMommies staff

Before you had kids you probably witnessed an out of control child having a temper tantrum at the store. More than likely you thought or said, "If that was my child, I would ______". Well now here you are with children of your own dealing with these exact situations. Temper tantrums are a normal part of life with toddlers and preschoolers. Almost all young children have tantrums occasionally. If handled appropriately, most children outgrow this stage by four or five.

Some children have severe tantrums and may get so upset that they vomit or hold their breath until they pass out. Although this can be extremely upsetting to the parent, the child will generally recover quickly and completely. If your child is fainting or vomiting from tantrums, you may want to consult your pediatrician to check for any other health concerns. How you handle tantrums will have a direct impact on the frequency and intensity of the tantrums.

Here are some tips on preventing tantrums and how to respond to them.

  • Make sure your child is not over-tired. If she is cranky or tired put her down for a nap or try doing some quiet time. You can lay down in the bed and read a book or play soothing music to help her relax.

  • Be consistent with your rules. If she has a tantrum and you give in to her demands, she will try this again. The more consistent you are, the more she will learn that tantrums don't work.

  • When you ask your child to do something, try asking nicely first. "Mommy needs some help picking up the toys" usually goes over better than "get in here and pick up this mess!"

  • Don't use bribery. Does she really deserve a cookie for going to bed on time or not misbehaving at the grocery store? By doing this you will only encourage her to break the rules to get a treat.

  • Don't react to her by yelling at her to be quiet. This will probably only upset her more. Sometimes in the midst of an outburst it is hard for a child to regain composure. Help her to calm down by giving her some quiet time in her room. Offer her a cup of water to help her relax if she is hyperventilating.

  • Sometimes children have tantrums because they want your attention. Look at the situation. Have you been watching tv, reading a book, or talking on the phone? If your child hasn't had much "mommy time", she may be trying to tell you something. Once she has calmed down from her tantrum, try setting some time aside just for her.

  • If you are in a public place, remove the child from the situation if you can. Go to the car or the restroom until she calms down.

When to call the doctor. If you are concerned that your child's tantrums are extreme or more frequent than they should be, call your pediatrician for help. If your child injures herself or others, destroys property, has frequent nightmares, regresses in potty training, faints, has stomach aches or anxiety attacks consult your doctor.

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