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Temper Tantrums - Home Treatment

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During a tantrum, you can help your child by:

  • Remaining calm.
  • Staying where the child can see you, especially if the child is very young.
  • Sending the child to his or her room until he or she is calm, if the child is old enough to understand why this is being done.
  • Removing any dangerous furniture or objects within the child's reach. If there are too many objects that could hurt the child, you may need to move the child to a safe place. Sometimes you may need to physically hold a younger child to prevent injury.
  • Being firm and consistent about what you expect. Do not give in to the child's demands.
  • Not trying to reason with the child during the tantrum. Talk calmly to the child if this works for him or her. But don't lecture, threaten, or argue with the child.

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.
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