Temper tantrums are most common between 2 and 4 years of age. They can be as short as 20 seconds or go on for hours. Practice positive discipline in managing your child’s behaviour.

During a temper tantrum, your child may run around screaming and yelling, bang their head, pound their fists, kick and bite, cry and roll around on the floor. Your child may also hold their breath. Don’t worry if this happens, children will naturally breathe when they need to.

Temper tantrums are your child’s way of showing anger and frustration.

  • Your child is not able to do something they want to do
  • Your child is asked to do something they do not want to do
  • Your child needs to get rid of anger and tension
  • Your child is over-tired, excited, hungry or sick
  • Your child is unable to manage a difficult task
  • Your child does not know the words to say
  • Your child has learned that a tantrum may be rewarded
  • Your child wants your attention

During a Temper Tantrum

  • Stay calm- remember it is normal for children to test out new behaviour, don’t argue with your child
  • Prompt your child to use self-calming strategies, for example, pretend your blowing candles together or a balloon
  • Acknowledge child’s feelings
  • Stop what you are doing and move close to your child. Calmly tell your child the behaviour that needs to stop and what to do instead, for example, “use your words” or “inside voice”. Explain why the behaviour is not acceptable
  • Don’t give in to your child
  • Keep your child from getting hurt, harming others or breaking things
  • Distract and redirect to another activity

After a Temper Tantrum

  • Stay calm and loving
  • Remove what was causing the tantrum
  • Give your child something quiet and easy to do
  • Praise your child for behaving well
  • Set a family rule that includes acceptable behaviours such as using a calm voice to ask for things. Role model polite language
  • Learn your child’s patterns and know what situations may start tantrums
  • Avoid going out when your child is tired
  • Bring a snack
  • Talk to your child while you shop and run errands
  • Let your child participate in what you are doing
  • Keep routines for meals and sleep times
  • Put away things that you don’t want your child to touch

Here are some more tips on positive discipline.