Unfortunately, tantrums are a normal part of the toddler years.

Frequent Toddler Tantrums at Home

by Sharon Perkins

Toddlers and tantrums go together like ham and eggs. However, doesn't mean that you have to stand by passively watching your toddler writhe on the floor while screaming like a banshee multiple times each day, or that you have to tolerate behavior that seems designed to manipulate you into giving in to a toddler's demands. You can take steps to decrease tantrums or defuse a tantrum before your toddler gets into high gear.


The combination of toddler independence -- "I do it myself!" -- plus frustration at not being able to do what they want without help often leads to explosions. Your toddler's lack of verbal competence and inability to explain just what it is he wants also causes frustration and emotional breakdowns. Tantrums often decrease as your toddler acquires more verbal skills, simply because he can ask clearly for what he wants. However, if your wily toddler learns that screaming get him what he wants, he'll almost certainly fall back on this technique whenever he doesn't get his way.

Avoiding Tantrums

Often, you can see a tantrum brewing and head it off before the storm clouds roll in. Other times, you can prevent a tantrum altogether by approaching issues that are known to set off tantrums. Giving your toddler a choice between two shirts, two types of cereals or other choices can help prevent a meltdown when you offer up the "wrong" ones. Since many tantrums occur when kids are tired or hungry, psychologist Dr. Laura Markham explains on Aha!Parenting.com, it's best to keep to your toddler's mealtime and nap time schedules as much as possible.

Treating Tantrums

Once your toddler falls into a full-blown temper tantrum on the living room floor, the action you take should depend on whether it's a frustration tantrum or a manipulative tantrum, says AskDrSears.com. If he's frustrated because he can't do something or explain something, sit down at eye level, give him a hug and ask him to tell you what he needs. Acknowledge his feelings but hold your ground, if necessary. Manipulative tantrums, on the other hand, are a learned behavior. Ignore the tantrum or walk away without giving in; at least at home you won't have to endure disapproving looks from other adults.

When to Get Help

Children between the ages of 1 to 3 are most likely to have temper tantrums, according to KidsHealth.org. If your toddler is able to express himself well but shows no sign of growing past the tantrum stage, if his tantrums seem quite severe, if he hurts himself or other people, if he's very difficult to control or his tantrums are worsening over time rather than improving, talk to his pediatrician. Sometimes behavioral therapy or a thorough exam to determine any possible physical cause is necessary to get you both through this difficult phase.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

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