ad info




[an error occurred while processing this directive]
CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 SPACE
* HEALTH
 AIDS
 Aging
 Alternative
 Cancer
 Children
 Diet & Fitness
 Men
 Women
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 ARTS & STYLE
 NATURE
 IN-DEPTH
 ANALYSIS
 myCNN

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

  MULTIMEDIA:
 video
 video archive
 audio
 multimedia showcase
 more services

  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:

  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:

  health > children > story page AIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Five ways to limit temper tantrums

October 14, 1999
Web posted at: 10:33 AM EDT (1433 GMT)


In this story:

Tantrums are normal, but you can head them off

Managing tantrums once they've started

RELATEDSicon



By Michael Regalado, M.D.

(WebMD) -- When infants learn to walk, at about a year old, their world suddenly expands. While the drive to explore is intense during the toddler years, children may become frustrated when they fail to master a task or have necessary limits imposed. They also may face frustration when they do not possess the verbal skills to express their anger. The sum result of all these factors? The all-too familiar temper tantrum.

Tantrums are normal, but you can head them off

Almost all children will have temper tantrums between the ages of 1 and 3 years. After the age of 4 years, when kids learn better self-control and language skills, temper tantrums should cease. However, those previous three years can seem like a lifetime.

How you handle your child's tantrums can make a difference in your child's ability to cope with anger. If you see managing tantrums as a power struggle between you and your child, that is what it will become. If you see this as part of the learning process, you are likely to be more effective and less frustrated as a parent. Here are five ways to help minimize childhood temper tantrums:

1. Be predictable and consistent. Because you have to set limits, you present a confusing picture to your child as a source of both security and frustration. Predictability and consistency are critical to minimizing the confusion. It helps if you also make your child's daily routine predictable. If change must occur (for instance, you're leaving on a trip or you're changing your baby-sitter), prepare your child, anticipating that he or she may need help in coping.

2. Set appropriate and consistent limits. If you have inappropriate expectations for your child, or are inconsistent and vague, your child may not respond. Give simple explanations that your child will understand -- for instance, "If you climb on the counter, you can hurt yourself." This helps your child learn the reasoning behind the limits.

3. Help your child develop skills for controlling emotions. If you use time-outs, structure them as a strategy rather than as a punishment: "I can see you're angry; it looks like we need a time-out to help you calm down." And give your child a chance to exercise free will by letting him or her make choices. The trick is to minimize oppositional behavior. For instance, instead of asking, "Do you want to eat lunch?" ask, "Would you rather have a sandwich or fruit for lunch?" This also sets the stage for praising good choices. Finally, teach your child words which identify feelings. "You must be feeling mad right now," or "Mommy is feeling frustrated and sad that she can't spend time with you now. Is that how you feel?"

4. Make your job as a parent as easy as possible. By taking steps to organize and childproof your home, you can decrease conflicts over safety issues. This makes it easier to teach your child where he or she can and can't play. Also, teach your child only one or two things at a time. What is most important for your child to learn at the moment? Being safe? Being kind to others? Decide ahead of time where you want to focus your attention.

5. Pay attention to your needs. If you're tired, you will be less effective and less tolerant. Is your schedule so hectic that it prevents you from establishing a predictable day for your child? If so, you may need to consider lifestyle changes that will help you balance personal and professional needs.

Managing tantrums once they've started

You can't avoid all tantrums. Once one has started, allow it to run its course, and take steps to soften its impact.

  • Remove the object that is causing the outburst. If your child is fighting over a toy with another child, remove your child from the room to help him or her calm down, or direct your child's attention to a different toy.

  • Avoid feeding your child's anger. Tantrums are already emotionally charged. Yelling and spanking may make it more difficult for your child to calm down. It also may send the wrong message by modeling behavior you're working to prevent.

  • Ignore minor tantrums, but intervene when a tantrum involves aggressive or destructive behavior.

  • Don't reward or bribe your child to stop a tantrum. This only reinforces the tantrum, making it more difficult the next time.

  • Be positive at the end of the tantrum. Say to your child, for example, "I really like the way you calmed yourself down that time."

  • Copyright 1999 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.



    RELATEDS AT WebMD:
    Temper tantrum
    From sulks to tantrums

    RELATED SITES:
    American Academy of Pediatrics
    National Child Care Information Center
    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

    LATEST HEALTH STORIES:
    China SARS numbers pass 5,000
    Report: Form of HIV in humans by 1940
    Fewer infections for back-sleeping babies
    Pneumonia vaccine may help heart, too
     LATEST HEADLINES:
    SEARCH CNN.com
    Enter keyword(s)   go    help

    Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines.