What Are Temper Tantrums

temper tantrums


My two-year-old frequently melts down with a temper tantrum, and I don’t know what to do.


Temper Tantrums are part of normal development in young children.  Here are some ideas for what you can do.

When your child has a temper tantrum, remind yourself it isn’t because you are doing something wrong.  Then do a quick check to see if your child might be tantruming for one of the following reasons.

Here are the most common ones:  Your toddler is…

  • Feeling Frustrated
  • Wanting attention.
  • Wanting something (such as a treat or toy).
  • Want to avoid doing something (such as picking up their toys or leaving the park).
  • Hungry
  • Tired

One of the jobs of your child is to have, experience, and feel all of their emotions. Temper tantrums are one of the ways they do this.  Remember, all emotions and feelings are allowed.  Some behaviors get a firm no. Some of the reasons are easier to address than others.  Your child is hungry, tired, or needs hug.  Sometimes you just have to wait for the big emotional storm to pass. Your job as a parent is safety.  Focus on keeping them and everyone around them safe.  All skill-building happens before and after a tantrum. However, statements like, “you are safe, I am right here.” and “I am going to stay right here with you” are good during a tantrum. Your child won’t acknowledge them but trust me, they will get in.

What can you do to stay calm and survive during a tantrum? Put one hand on your heart and one on your belly. Take slow deep breaths as you say to yourself repeatedly. “I can get through this.” Even though some tantrums feel like they will go on forever, all tantrums come to an end.

You won’t be able to prevent all temper tantrums. Temper tantrums are one of the ways that kids communicate and are a natural part of maturing.  However, you may be able to take steps to reduce the number and frequency of their temper tantrums. Here are some ideas:

  • Give them choices within reason. Make sure you are ok with both options, though.
  • Prepare them for changes in activities. Transitions are difficult for toddlers and often spark a tantrum if your child didn’t expect the transition.  Communicate ahead of time and prepare your toddler for transitions such as leaving the house or the playground.
  • Sleep and food.  Ensure your child has good nutrition, enough to eat, and enough sleep. Rest is how your toddler keeps their brain healthy, functioning, and growing. Without sufficient sleep, your toddler’s ability to understand and manage their emotions is depleted.
  • When the meltdown comes remind yourself, my child is a good child having a hard time.  I am a good parent, we will both get through this.