Temper Tantrums

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It's hard for young children to hold strong feelings inside. When they feel frustrated or angry, they often cry, scream, or stomp up and down. This is a temper tantrum.

Temper tantrums are a normal part of your ?children's development. They usually begin around 12 to 18 months of age, get worse between 2 and 3 years, and taper off after that, once children are able to use words to communicate their wants and needs.

Here is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help parents understand temper tantrums and how best to deal with them.

Why do children have temper tantrums?

During the toddler years, there is a change in how children process information. They suddenly become more aware that their world can change. They realize they won't always get what they expect or want. Their young minds are easily overwhelmed, and they don't know how to cope with change or how to deal with not getting their way.

A lot of things can trigger a tantrum. For example, children may have a temper tantrum because they

How to prevent temper tantrums

Temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up, but you may be able to prevent some from happening.

What you can do

How to handle tantrums

What you can do

Some behaviors arenot OK and should not be ignored, such as

If these things happen, take your children away from the problem. Say firmly, "No hitting," or "No throwing," to make sure your children know these behaviors are not OK.

What not to do

When temper tantrums are serious

Your children should have fewer temper tantrums by 3½ years of age. Between tantrums, their behavior should seem normal and healthy. If the outbursts are severe or happen too often, they may be an early sign of emotional problems. Talk with your children's doctor if your children seem to have difficulty expressing themselves with words (compared with other children the same age), cause harm to themselves or others, or hold their breath and faint, or if tantrums get worse after 4 years of age. Your children's doctor will make sure no physical or emotional problems are causing the tantrums. He or she can also give you advice to help you deal with these outbursts.

It is important to realize that temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up. While tantrums are not always easy to deal with, a loving and understanding approach will help you and your children get through them.

Breath-holding spells

Some children, when upset and crying very hard, hold their breath after taking a big breath. They can even hold their breath to the point of passing out. It is not done on purpose but may happen when children are upset, such as during a temper tantrum. While these episodes can be scary for parents, rest assured that they are usually harmless and your children will grow out of them. If you are concerned about your children's behavior, talk with your children's doctor.

Keeping your children safe

Many times you will have to tell your children no to protect them from harm or injury. For example, the kitchen and bathroom can be dangerous places for your children. They may not understand why you will not let them play there. This can cause a tantrum. However, it's more important to keep your children safe.

Childproof your home, and make dangerous areas or objects off-limits. Keep an eye on your children at all times. Never leave them alone in a situation that could be hazardous. Take away dangerous objects and replace them with something safe. It is up to you to keep your children safe.

The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.