Temper tantrums are sudden displays of anger and frustration — feelings your child hasn't learned how to express. Your child may have a tantrum if they’re having difficulty figuring out how to do something, or they want something and can’t tell you what they need. A child who’s thirsty, hungry, or tired is more likely to have a temper tantrum.
Tantrums are a natural part of a child’s development. They’re common in children between ages 1 and 3, and they usually occur less frequently once a child can express what they want or need. Temper tantrums in older children can be a learned behavior they use to get a reaction from their parents or other caregivers.
If your child has severe, frequent tantrums or if your child is still having tantrums after age 3, talk to your pediatrician. Sometimes tantrums can be a sign of an underlying problem, such as:
The pediatric developmental-behavioral specialists at University of Miami Health System offer expert assessment, guidance, and treatment for children as they develop emotionally. Whether you need advice about how to react to tantrums, or your child needs treatment for an underlying behavioral health condition, we can help.
The developmental-behavioral specialist talks with you to gather information and evaluates your child to understand when and why temper tantrums occur. This allows us to develop a personalized treatment plan to help manage and prevent tantrums. Our specialists provide you and your child with skills to improve the way you interact and express your emotions.
The way you respond to your child’s tantrums is important. If you comfort your child during a tantrum or offer a reward to stop the behavior, you’re reinforcing it, and it’s likely to continue. On the other hand, it’s important not to punish your child. Stay calm and ignore the behavior. Let your child know you’ll talk about how they feel once they calm down.
There are things you can do to make it less likely your child will have a temper tantrum, such as:
- Don’t run errands when your child is hungry or tired
- If you expect to wait in line or be in another situation that may not be stimulating for your child, bring a small toy or snack to occupy them
- Avoid the toy aisle at the grocery store
- Praise good behavior and let your child know you appreciate when they’re well-behaved
Why Choose UHealth?
World-class health care for children. Children and their families come from all over the world to receive top-quality care from our compassionate team of pediatric specialists. Your child receives personalized attention from doctors who are sought out for their expertise.
Research leads to better treatments for your child. In addition to seeing patients, our doctors are involved in leading-edge research at one of the nation’s top medical schools, Miller School of Medicine. Through this research, we have access to innovative treatments and procedures more quickly than other facilities. Our team uses the latest technologies and research findings to provide your child with superior, personalized care.
HealthySteps program helps children meet milestones. All our general pediatrics offices use the HealthySteps program to ensure that children are developing appropriately for their age — physically, emotionally, and psychologically. When there are issues or concerns, we work closely with patients and their families to connect them with support resources.
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