Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

Loading
Quick Facts

Temper Tantrums

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Oct 2020| Content last modified Oct 2020
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version

What is a temper tantrum?

All children get angry from time to time. A temper tantrum is an extreme, angry outburst. They usually happen in children 1 to 4 years old.

  • Children may scream, cry, roll on the floor, throw things, or stomp their feet

  • Some hold their breath and turn red

  • Most temper tantrums happen when a child is frustrated

  • Some children have temper tantrums to get attention, get something from you, or avoid doing something

  • Tantrums are more likely when children are hungry or tired

  • Usually temper tantrums last less than 15 minutes

  • Use time-out or distract your child with another activity to stop temper tantrums

How can I help my child during a temper tantrum?

A temper tantrum eventually stops, but you can get very frustrated until it does. You usually can't reason with a child during a tantrum. And scolding them doesn't make it stop. Help your child calm down by doing the following:

  • First, try to calm yourself

  • Try to distract your child, but don't give them the thing they're trying to get

  • If distraction doesn't work, move the child to a different room or space

  • At home, a time-out chair may be a good location

  • Have your child sit in the time-out chair, 1 minute for each year of your child's age (for example, 1 minute for 1-year-old, 5 minutes for 5-year-old)

  • Don’t talk or look at your child while in time-out

  • After time is up, remind your child why the time-out was needed

  • Start your child in a new activity and go out of your way to praise any good behavior

Don't give in to what your child wants while having a tantrum. Giving in only teaches your child that tantrums work.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Also of Interest

Videos

View All
Cochlear Implant
Video
Cochlear Implant
When sound waves reach the ear, they are gathered by the funnel-shaped outer ear and channeled...

SOCIAL MEDIA

TOP