Sometimes you have to say “no” to protect your child from harm. This is a common cause of a tantrum. So, what can you do?

Call the Doctor If…

…your child shows any of these signs:

When tantrums are bad or happen often, they may be a sign of emotional problems. Your child's doctor can help you find out what is behind the tantrums. The doctor can also give you advice on dealing with them.

How to Help Prevent Temper Tantrums

You can't prevent all tantrums, but these ideas may help:

Copyright © 2008
Page My Doctor
Collin County Pediatrics - Need a baby doctor?

Map of New Office
Effective July 2017
Office InfoProvidersPatient FormsMedical LibraryPay My BillPortal

Child Behavior

Temper Tantrums

Print, Share, or View Spanish version of this article

It's hard for a young child to hold strong feelings inside. Young children often cry, scream, or stomp up and down when they are upset. As a parent, you may feel angry, helpless, or ashamed.

Temper tantrums are normal. They are one way a child learns self-control. Almost all children have tantrums between the ages of 1 and 3. By age 4, they usually stop.

What to Do for a Temper Tantrum

Try these tips when your child has a temper tantrum:

  • Try to stay calm. If you can't stay calm, leave the room. Wait a minute or two before coming back, or wait until the crying stops.

  • Distract your child. Point out something else to do, like read a book or play with a toy. Say something like, “Look at what the kitty is doing”

  • Let your child cool off or have a “time-out.” Take your child away from the problem. Give your child some time alone to calm down. Try 1 minute of time-out for every year of your child's age. (For example, a 4-year-old would get a 4-minute time-out.) Don't use time-out too much or it won't work.

  • Be ready to take your child home if your child has a “public” tantrum. The best way of stopping “public” tantrums is to take your child home or to the car.

  • Ignore your child's crying, screaming, or kicking if you can. Stand nearby or hold your child without talking until your child calms down. The more attention you give a tantrum, the more likely it is to happen again.

The following things are not OK. Don't ignore these actions:

  • Hitting or kicking people

  • Throwing things that might hurt someone or break something

  • Yelling for a long time

If your child does these things, take him or her away from the problem. Hold your child. Say firmly, “No hitting” or “No throwing” to make sure your child knows what behavior is not OK.

What Not to Do

Never punish your child for temper tantrums. Your child may start to keep feelings inside, which is worse.

Don't give in to your child's demands just to stop a tantrum. This teaches that a temper tantrum will help your child get his or her way. Tantrums are more likely to stop if your child doesn't gain anything from them.

Don't talk too much to your child during the tantrum. It is hard to reason with a screaming child. When your child calms down, talk about better ways to deal with anger and frustration.

What to Expect

Your child should have fewer temper tantrums by age 31/2. Between tantrums, he or she should seem normal and healthy. Every child grows and learns at his or her own pace. It may take time to learn how to control his or her temper.

A Word About Safety

Copyright © 2019 Collin County Pediatrics. All rights reserved.