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Temper Tantrums - Home Treatment

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Do not be alarmed if the child holds his or her breath. Children often hold their breath during a temper tantrum. They will breathe again automatically, even if they pass out. For more information, see the topic Breath-Holding Spells.

There are some things you can do to help prevent some temper tantrums. You may be able to:

  • Distract your child from his or her frustration or take your child away from a situation that is likely to trigger a tantrum. For example, if your child doesn't like to go to bed, about 20 minutes before bedtime talk about a fun activity that is going to occur the next day. Reduce the need to say "no" to your child by childproofing your home. Fewer rules need to be enforced if unsafe or breakable items are kept out of a child's reach or sight.
  • Reduce how often temper tantrums occur by giving your child simple choices and by listening to your child's concerns. It also can help to provide a regular and predictable schedule for your child. This is especially true during times that you expect your child may be more prone to temper tantrums, such as when starting a new child care routine. Establish regular times to eat and sleep to help your child to be in a good state of mind.

In general, parents who know what to expect from their child at different ages are better able to help their child grow and develop in a healthy way. Talk with your doctor about how to help your child gain a sense of independence, boost his or her self-confidence, and handle frustration and anger.

If your child harms himself or herself or others during temper tantrums, talk with your doctor about ways to stop these behaviors. Your doctor may suggest that your child be evaluated for a behavior problem.

Using time-out

If your child continues to have temper tantrums, you may want to use time-outs. Time-out works best for children who understand why it is being used. A time-out removes the child from the situation, allows him or her time to calm down, and teaches the child that having a temper tantrum is not acceptable behavior.

If you need to use time-out, it will be important for you to also take time to be with your child (time-in). Time-in may help reduce your child's frustration and lead to fewer temper tantrums. Time-in is making frequent, brief contact with your child when he or she is behaving as expected. For example, you can pat your child on the head while he or she is playing quietly. This physical touch shows the child that you approve of his or her behavior. Or you can make a comment such as, "I like it when you sit quietly and look at your books when I am on the phone."

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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