Giving Tuesday

April 20th

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Child Abuse Prevention: Are Temper Tantrums a Trigger?

Temper, temper!During April, designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM), the LSS “Help, Healing, Hope” blog is summarizing several chapters from the 2014 Prevention Resource Guide, a great source of information about protective factors that help reduce child abuse. The Guide addresses specific parenting issues with tips for parents and caregivers. First up: Dealing with temper tantrums.

Toddler Tantrums & Modeling Calm Behavior

We’ve all seen it … the 2- or 3-year-old in the grocery store getting walloped by his parent while having a melt-down in the cereal aisle or at the heavily populated check-out counter. Is this abusive? Is this just the tip of the iceberg, and the child is going to see much worse once he/she is in a less public place?

What’s happening: Tantrums are common at this age because toddlers are becoming independent and developing their own wants, needs, and ideas. However, they are not yet able to express their wants and feelings with words. So they get agitated and fall apart.

What You Can Do: When your child is having a floor-thumping tantrum, the most important thing you can do is remain calm and wait it out. Do not let your child’s behavior cause you to lose control, too.

Since it is often easier to prevent tantrums than to deal with them after they get going, the Prevention Resource Guide suggests trying these tips:*

• Direct your child’s attention to something else. (“Wow, look at that fire engine!”)

• Give your child a choice in small matters. (“Do you want to eat peas or carrots?”)

• Stick to a daily routine that balances fun activities with enough rest and healthful food.

• Anticipate when your child will be disappointed. (“We are going to buy groceries for dinner. We won’t be buying cookies, but you can help me pick out some fruit for later.”)

• Praise your child when he or she shows self-control and expresses feelings with words.

If you cannot prevent the tantrum, here are some tips for dealing with it:

• Say what you expect from your child and have confidence that your child will behave.

• Remain calm. You are a role model for your child.

• Holding your child during a tantrum may help a younger child feel more secure and calm down more quickly.

• Take your child to a quiet place where he or she can calm down safely. Speak softly or play soft music.

• Some children throw tantrums to seek attention. Try ignoring the tantrum, but pay attention to your child after he or she calms down.

• Resist overreacting to tantrums, and try to keep your sense of humor.

Sound too simple to you? We welcome your comments and wisdom on the subject!


*This tip sheet was created with information from experts in national organizations that work to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being. You can download this tip sheet and get more parenting tips At,  or call 800.394.3366.

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