Temper Tantrums: Manage in Four Simple Steps

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with a client who’d had a pretty bad temper tantrum over wanting his ‘lollipop’.  He’d kicked off his shoes, knocked over all of the chairs in the classroom, crawled under the tables (the ones he hadn’t flipped over) and alternated between crying and yelling (sans tears) for about ten minutes both in class and in my office.  After he was done, I invited him over to the table and pretty much asked him what that was all about.  He replied “I wanted my lollipop back from___________”. The teacher had already told me she had taken the candy from the other student and was about to give it to him before he sort of ‘erupted’.  We talked about getting help from adults, being patient and of course, I taught the client anger management techniques (i.e. stop, calm down, go; turtle technique, etc.) and the rest but the important thing to remember is that an important part of our task as parents is to teach kids to manage frustration and anger.

Tantrums may start at about 12 months of age as toddlers become more independent.  At this stage they appear uncooperative and stubborn.  They are increasingly common in 2 year olds, hence the term ‘terrible two’s’.  Many times, depending on the impact of parenting techniques, daycare or preschool programs, and a child’s ability to learn problem solving skills, most children begin to decrease tantrums by age three or four.  Some children may need additional help from parents (teachers, caregivers, etc), however, to learn to manage anger and frustration appropriately.  Children not receiving this instruction continue to have difficulty well (whew) beyond this age.

How to Manage Tantrums


Ignoring tantrums can work for children two and under (may be difficult when visitors are around so you may need to try another strategy)


For tantrums in older toddlers, stop whatever you are doing and calmly Tell your child what they should stop doing and what to do instead ex. “Alexis, stop yelling right now and speak to mommy in your nice voice”.  Give them verbal praise if they do what you ask “Great job speaking in your nice voice Alexis” (p.s. always be specific with your praise).

Time Out

If the tantrum continues let the child know what they have done wrong and the consequence.  This involves taking the child away from the place the problem occurred and then allowing them to sit quietly for a minute in Time Out.  Make sure this is a safe place.


After your child has been quiet for 1 minute in timeout allow them to Return to the activity or engage in a new activity.  Praise your child for behaving well.


Note:  You may need to repeat time-out a number of times until your child learn to manage their frustration.

I love kids!


The internet has a rich source of resources as well as the public library.  Check out a few of these.

[easyazon_link identifier=”1575423162″ locale=”US” tag=”accesscouns03-20″]Calm-Down Time (Toddler Tools)[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00U10WU0C” locale=”US” tag=”accesscouns03-20″]No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior[/easyazon_link]


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