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Dealing With Your Child’s Temper Tantrums


Estimated read time : 3 minutes

Patterns of children’s temper tantrums are a myriad mix of emotions and communication gap. Many studies about challenging behaviour exhibited by children highlight that the vocalisation involved in tantrums – including screaming, shrieking and wailing – follow a rhythm and are almost like a circadian graph showing peaks and valleys.

Parents usually feel perturbed by a child’s tantrums. Some completely ignore the cause behind it. Either way, it does not help stop tantrums. Instead, parents must delve into the science behind a shout or a wail and bring about a balanced approach to tackle tantrums.

The University of Minnesota and University of Connecticut recorded vocal evidence of more than 100 temper tantrums. When researchers replayed the audio, they discovered that specific tantrum patterns, like yelling and screaming, went hand in hand.

Meltdowns began in anger and ended in sadness with cries and whimpers. The spurt in tantrums by urban children has often been equated with a rise in modern technology and lack of parent-child ‘connect.’

A recent TIME Magazine article speaks of a study on how digital technology interrupts the bond between a parent and a child, leading to unending episodes of tantrums.

How can parents work on challenging behaviour of children?

  • Parents must try to carve out designated times to put away electronic devices like smartphones and laptops
  • Reserving certain hours of the day or making technology free locations at home develops a connect between parents and children.
  • Instead of trying to make a child stop screaming, keep silent. This is the quickest way to defuse a tantrum, to wait for the anger to pass.
  • Even if you feel like shouting back and anger simmers within you, control it. Stay calm or at least pretend to do so. Getting angry will worsen the situation. If you need to speak, keep your voice calm and talk slowly.
  • Parents can intervene to comfort the child once his or her anger subsides and gives way to sadness.
  • Stress, hunger, tiredness and overstimulation irritate children. Parents must try and reduce these factors.
  • Identify tantrum triggers. For example, your child might have tantrums when she is sleepy or hungry.
  • Talk about emotions with your child and help them tide over difficult feelings that are probably frustrating them and leading to tantrums. When your child struggles with a difficult feeling, encourage him to name the feeling and what caused it. If they throw things in anger, ask gently: ‘Did you throw your toy because you were upset that it wasn’t working?’ Such kind words help the child to reset emotions.

A child’s social and emotional skills develop between 1-3 years. Children often don’t have words to express big emotions. They want more independence but fear being separated from parents. Such confusion leads to tantrums. It is a natural and normal instinct. Do not overreact.

As the child grows, self-regulation comes automatically when they can manage behaviour and reactions.