How to Gently Respond to Temper Tantrums


What are Temper Tantrums?

As a parent, it can be frustrating when your child stomps, screams, and throws themselves to the floor. However, these are a normal part of childhood development. When your child is throwing a temper tantrum, it is their way to express themselves or communicate their feelings and emotions. They can range from whining and crying to screaming and kicking.

Temper tantrums often start at about 1 year of age and continue up until your child is 4-years-old. Some children may have tantrums often while others have them rarely. Temper tantrums happen when your child is tired, hungry, uncomfortable, or can’t get something they want. Once your child’s ability to communicate becomes better, then temper tantrums may occur less often.

Dealing with Temper Tantrums

No matter how calm or gentle you are with your child, there’s still a possibility that your child will throw temper tantrums. Here’s a list of ways you can tame your child’s tantrums:

  • Stay calm.

    Before talking to your child, take a deep breath first. Temper tantrums can be very stressful to handle. Think of what you’re going to say that would not hurt your child’s feelings even more. If you’re feeling too frustrated to do an inhale and exhale routine, exit the room and gather your thoughts for a few seconds. Come back to the room when you have already calmed down.

  • Acknowledge your child’s strong feelings.

    You can start the conversation with your child with empathetic statements. Show them that you understand what they are feeling. As much as possible, use a gentle and soothing voice to show your concern and that you care about them.

  • Listen and respond.

    When your child starts talking about what they’re feeling or why they acted in a certain way, listen and make sure to let them know that you understand what they’re saying. If you feel like your child is struggling with words, then offer some help. Many times, feeling listened to and understood is all kids need to calm down.

  • Create clear ground rules.

    You need to establish rules that your child needs to follow. Be clear on what is and what is not acceptable behavior. They need to know that they cannot get anything they want by throwing tantrums.

  • Do not punish your child.

    Again, temper tantrums are a way for your child to express their feelings and emotions. Punishing them will just create a gap between you and your child. They might feel that they cannot trust you to help them understand what they’re going through. If a child learns early on that expressing his feelings will result in punishment, it might lead to the child being defiant.

How to Avoid Tantrums

If your child starts to throw tantrums, it may be difficult to gain the upper hand and calm them down. However, you can avoid temper tantrums before it even begins. Here’s how:

  • Watch out for common preconditions of tantrums such as when your child is hungry,
    thirsty, or tired.
  • Make sure that you get special time with your child to avoid them throwing tantrums just
    to get your attention.
  • Encourage your child to label and describe their feelings.
  • Give your child limited choices. Don’t give your child free rein to do whatever they want.
  • Know what your child can and cannot tolerate.
  • If your child is in a situation where you know will upset them, redirect their attention.
  • Tell your child how you expect them to behave when you go to a place or meet other


You don’t have to worry about your child’s temper tantrums. It’s normal and part of a child’s development. Just follow the tips we’ve recommended, and we’re sure that you’re going to handle your child’s tantrums just fine.

Always talk with your child’s healthcare provider regarding their developmental changes. Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno provides quality healthcare to children of the Central Valley. Schedule your child’s appointment today!

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