Toddlers and Temper Tantrums Orange County

Newport Children's Medical Group
They don’t call it the terrible twos for nothing.  If you have a 2- or 3-year old, temper tantrums may have become a way of life for you.  At Newport Children’s Medical Group, your premiere Irvine and Orange County for pediatric care, we’re no strangers to the anxiety many parents feel during this stage.  After all, we’re parents too.  But understanding what can trigger a tantrum in your toddler can make you feel like you’ve got some control over your tiny tasmanian tot.

What is temper tantrums in toddlers?

At the heart of toddlers’ temper tantrums is their attempt at expressing their feelings of frustration at a challenging moment.  While toddlers may understand some words, they still have difficulties expressing themselves to the point an adult can understand them.  So a simple request for a cookie or sweet which is met with a no, or perhaps, a difficult and challenging task can easily throw them into a tailspin.  At that young age their motor and language skills are still developing.  They’re still trying to absorb the adult world around them and gain just a little independence. Kids with temper tantrums, who experience this frustration, can never be totally controlled by a parent.  But a parent does have control  over their response to a child’s temper tantrum.

What to do for temper tantrums?

While temper tantrums in children, especially small children, may be a way of expressing their frustration, in an older child, temper tantrums may be a behavior they’ve been rewarded for in the past.  As a parent, if you reward the behavior, a child will pick up the hint that this is the one way to get what they want from you.

In the Irvine and Orange County area, the Newport Children’s Medical Group, have a few words of wisdom when it comes to avoiding tantrums in toddlers.  While preventing tantrums may seem like a herculean feat, a parent can take action by encouraging good behavior in their toddler or child with a few of these effective suggestions:

  • Praise the good behavior when it happens.  By offering attention to a child when he or she behaves as they should, you begin the groundwork for avoiding more public temper tantrums in the future.
  • Be timely with praise. Wait until your child is finished with their tantrum before giving praise.   If you give encouragement in the middle of a temper tantrum, you’re only reinforcing the behavior.  By saying “When you calm down, we can talk about what happen and I can give you a hug”, you’re offering comfort but also teaching them how to monitor their own behavior.
  • Encourage the use of words.  When you teach a child words to express when their tired, hungry or thirsty, the easier it is to communicate with them.  Making it easier to communicate with you means less of a struggle with child temper tantrums.  Some parents have used sign language as a means of communication.
  • Stay calm in the middle of a temper tantrum.  This is a difficult one to do, especially in public.  If it’s at all possible, try to take your child away to a calmer place.  Sometimes this just isn’t possible.  One thing you should never do is respond in anger.  This can backfire.  Acting angry and irrational at something your child says or does only adds more fuel to the fire, and can result in a prolonged temper tantrum in your child.
  • Avoid places or situations that prompt temper tantrums.  If you child has a habit of begging for a toy or treat while shopping, steer clear of those grocery aisles filled with tempting goodies.  If your child misbehaves in restaurants, make reservations.  You can also choose restaurants when they are least likely to be busy or that have fast service system in place.

The Irvine and Orange County pediatricians of Newport Children’s Medical Group have more than 40 years experience caring for children.  We understand the commitment and sacrifice it takes to be a parent in these hectic and busy times.  Our approach has always been to put our small patients first.  Temper tantrums in toddlers is often a phase that can be quickly outgrown.  If your child’s tantrums persist beyond the age of 4, an evaluation might help you distinguish the real true cause behind these outbursts.

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