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Temper Tantrums

Frustrations can arise in a two-three year old when their strive for independence clashes with their continual need for supervision. Impulse control has not fully developed in a two or three-year-old. Likewise, the child has yet to fully develop the ability to communicate what he or she is wanting or feeling. This is fertile ground for temper tantrums.

Temper tantrums can begin earlier than two years of age, and continue into school age if not dealt with properly.

What Triggers a Temper Tantrum?

Two and three year olds may have temper tantrums because they feel inadequate in their abilities to master a new toy or activity. They may also have a tantrum when they are not allowed to wear clothing they prefer, or eat and drink what they want.


Other things which can trigger a temper tantrum include:

  • over stimulation
  • being confined in a car seat or stroller for a long period of time
  • denial of a request
  • being separated from something or someone they love
  • a change in their routine

How to Handle a Temper Tantrum

Giving in to a child’s temper tantrum is detrimental to the child’s emotional health. It teaches the child that if they have a tantrum, they will be given what they want. Giving in to a temper tantrum leads to habitual tantrums that can extend far past three years of age.

When a child has their first tantrum, caregivers can try to soothe and calm the child. If the child is unresponsive to the attempts made to soothe their frustrations, caregivers should ignore the tantrum.

While temper tantrums should not be met with attention, a child should be closely monitored during their temper tantrum without him or her being made aware that he or she is being observed. This will ensure the child does not hurt himself or herself.

Caregivers should never engage themselves in the temper tantrum by yelling or by trying to restrain the upset child. When the tantrum subsides, the child may need extra cuddling.

If the child has a temper tantrum in public, they should immediately be removed from the public place. Simply leave the shopping cart in the aisle and take the child to the car. If you are at someone’s home, make apologies to your host and pick up your child and leave.

When a child realizes that he or she will not be indulged or rewarded for their tantrums, temper tantrums generally subside.

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