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What is the best way to deal with temper tantrums? Does anything really work?

Almost all children will throw temper tantrums at some point in their young lives. Some kids are remarkably well behaved and will very rarely test the boundaries in this way.

However, most children will go through a period of terrible tantrums, usually around the age of two or three. Although these outbursts can be unpleasant, it's important to realise that they're all just part of the growing up process. So the question isn't necessarily how to avoid temper tantrums but how to deal with them...

Be prepared
Preparation is the key to dealing with temper tantrums. Know what you're going to say in advance and stick to it. Your tantrum busting script can include diversion tactics such as changing the subject, giving them something to look forward to on the way home or offering them a clear way out of the situation.

Stay calm
One of the worst things you can do in the face of a temper tantrum is to fight fire with fire. Arguing with the child will, in most cases, make matters worse. It will increase the stress levels of both you and your toddler, and the situation will most likely spiral out of control.

Don't be soft
Arguably the biggest mistake parents make with tantrum throwing children is to give in. Giving your child what she wants may stop her shouting and screaming but it also encourages her to do it again. If causing a scene in Sainsburys gets her the chocolate bar she wants, she will do it every time.

But don't be too hard
Not too soft but not too hard - well, which one is it? The answer lies somewhere in between. Of course you should never reward a temper tantrum with a treat but sometimes you should give your child what she wants, if she has asked for it nicely. There has to be some incentive for children to behave themselves and discourage them from raising the roof whenever they not allowed what they want.

Forget the public
The worst temper tantrums are obviously when you're out in public. You feel like everyone within a one mile radius is looking at you... and they probably are. However, as soon as you start thinking about what other people are thinking, your judgment becomes affected. Too many parents lose their temper or give their toddler exactly what she wants, just because complete strangers are watching. But ask yourself what's more important - your child's personal development or what someone you'll probably never see again, might be thinking?

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