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Temper Tantrums: How to cope

Regardless of why your child is having a tantrum, here are a few simple guidelines you can follow that may help you deal with them:

  • First, try to soothe, calm and talk to your child. If this doesn't work because your child is too worked up, take her to a calm, safe place and let her cry it out. Stay close by, but leave the talking for later.

  • Once your child will allow it, gentle holding and reassuring comments can be helpful. Help your child talk about what happened, how he felt and why he was angry.

  • Remember, it's important NOT to give in to your child during a tantrum - although it can be very tempting when you're dealing with your kicking, screaming child in a public place. Even if you give in only once or twice, you are teaching your child that tantrums are an effective way to get what she wants.

  • Be patient, and try to set a good example in the way you handle your own anger and frustration. Avoid losing your temper with your child, because that will only make things worse. Sometimes just walking away for a few minutes can be helpful.

  • Don't worry about what other people in the vicinity are thinking. For every person who is critical, there is another who is understanding and deeply sympathetic. Just concentrate on handling the situation, and remember there are no perfect parents.

If you find that tantrums are happening more and more, or that your child is really having trouble settling down, discuss this with your child's physician. If you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor about this, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.

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