Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Temper Tantrums - A Normal Part of Growing Up

Category: Positive Parenting


     Temper tantrums in young children are embarrassing for  parents.  They are also equally hard to deal with by the children  themselves.  Children will scream and fuss and fall on the floor  if they don't get their way.  They are usually frustrated, angry  or scared.  This usually occurs in children between ages one and  three and usually stops by age four.  Tantrums are a very normal part of life in young children. 

     Most young children are constantly testing and trying to  take control.  They want to break loose and be independent but  they frequently do more than their safety and physical skills  allow.  This is when they get reprimanded and through  disappointment have a temper tantrum.  Other times they will have  temper tantrums just simply for attention because they are bored  or because they are mad about something else.  It's their way of  showing frustration and anger.  Young children have difficulty expressing what they feel and  so they feel misunderstood and may get upset.  Throwing a temper  tantrum may be their only way of expressing their frustration and  pent up feelings.  They are acting out their distress or fear of pain. 

     Parents certainly cannot prevent all tantrums, but they can  lessen them with reasonable expectations.  Try as a parent to  keep your child occupied with questions and stay involved with  them so that they don't have a lot of frustration and boredom on  their hands.  Try not to say "No" so often.  At the same time  continue to monitor their safety and set guidelines and limits on  what they can and cannot do.  I personally feel that "time-outs"  are the best way of disciplining a child when he has crossed that  magic line one too many times.

     Just understanding that temper tantrums are  a normal part  of growing up and that children that have them are not bad is  important.  For some children the tantrums may be beyond the  range of what you would consider normal for their age and perhaps  a consultation with your pediatrician or a psychologist would be  in order.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has helpful  information which can be obtained by sending a business size SASE to:


Temper Tantrums,  Department "C"
American Academy of Pediatrics
P.O. Box 927 

Elk Grove Village, Il  60009-0927