A-Z Services

Help & Advice

Behaviour Problems

Common behaviour problems and their management

Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums may present as screaming episodes or by your child throwing him/herself on to the floor. It can often be helpful to think about why your child is having a tantrum. Here are five possible reasons for a tantrum (you will probably be able to think of some more):

1. To express rage and frustration if you have just said 'no' to something
2. To get your attention
3. To try and force you to change your mind
4. Because you have misunderstood the situation
5. Because your child has been unsuccessful in something s/he was trying to do.

Toddlers are ambitious. When they fail or when they are stopped, they have strong feelings about it. If given in to they may get worse but if you handle them well they should only last for a short time. Children are much more likely to repeat good behaviour if they receive regular rewards (attention) for it so try to give praise when your child is being good.

Children need to be given clear instructions to avoid confusion about what they are supposed to be doing. You may even need to show your child what to do.

Distract your child in the first place towards doing something else. Sometimes that is all that is needed.

Sometimes your child may just be having a bad day and the tantrum may happen no matter what action you take. All that you can do in this case is to divert your attention elsewhere. This can be achieved in a number of ways:


1. Ignore your child after saying you will speak to him/her when s/he has calmed down or said sorry.
2. Remove your child to a 'no attention' place, somewhere safe but boring - maybe another room or the bottom step on the stairs, until s/he has calmed down.
3. Do not get drawn into any discussion or argument about the situation – that would involve continuing to give attention. Do not allow your child to hit you. This can be done by talking gently to calm your child down, gently stopping him/her from hitting you or moving to a safe place.
4. Try to stay calm. Remember children learn by imitation so you need to consider the type of role model you are portraying.

The tantrums may initially get worse because your child is not used to being ignored, so will try harder to get your attention. Having a tantrum in a more public place, such as the supermarket, may be what your child needed to do to get your attention. Avoid smacking as this usually ends up increasing the severity of the tantrum. Again, consider the example you are setting.

Make sure your child knows the rules and understands why, for example, s/he is being told to sit on the bottom step.

Be consistent

This means being predictable so that your child knows what to expect when s/he behaves in a particular way
You should do what you say you will do and not make promises if you might not keepthem

Be in charge

You make the decisions in your household, not your child.
Do not give in because your child cries, misbehaves, complains or is demanding.
But you do need to learn how to negotiate with your child.

Parents should work together

Agree with each other in front of your child. Disagreements should be in private.
Back each other up.
Let each other know what you have told your child will happen, what you have promised.

Treat your children as individuals

Let them have different bedtimes according to their age.
Give them different amounts of pocket money according to their age.
Let them be responsible for different household tasks according to their age.
Make sure that they each have some time alone with you.

Encourage independence

Do not do things for your children that they can do for themselves.
Let your children be responsible for their own things (such as putting away toys and clothes).

Teach or encourage good behaviour

Give much more attention to your children when they are behaving sensibly than when they are behaving badly.
Never let your children get away with what they want when they are misbehaving.
Look for the good things to praise, rather than criticise.

Have rules about important matters

Have clear rules and tell your children what they are.
Have as few as possible and make sure that you always stick to them