Toddler temper tantrums

A temper tantrum is your child's way of expressing their feelings.

Your child may become frustrated if they can't make you understand what they want or if they don't get their own way. It's important to teach your child how to manage their emotions and better ways of dealing with their frustrations.

During a temper tantrum, your child may:

  • shout
  • scream
  • kick
  • bite
  • throw things

When temper tantrums start

Your child may show signs of temper tantrums from 2 years on. They may continue until your child is 3 or older.

For many children, these tantrums may only happen a few times. For other children, these tantrums are more frequent and will ease off as they grow.

It can be upsetting for you when your child has a temper tantrum. Sometimes it may happen in a public place and can be very distressing for both of you.

Managing your child's temper tantrum

As your child begins to want more independence, you need to manage their temper tantrums. It's important that you stay calm while managing a tantrum, as they will be watching to see how you react.

This is part of your child's growth and development. Do not punish your child for this behaviour.

When you say no, say it firmly and calmly. Offer your child another option. Encourage other good aspects of their behaviour. The tone of your voice and their understanding of the word no is important to learn at an early age.

Sometimes children will test you and the limits and boundaries you have set. By giving in to this, your child may do it again.

It's important your child understands that you will take action if they carry on with behaviour that harms themselves or others.

Have patience if you find yourself becoming angry or upset with your child's behaviour. If possible, get another adult to take over minding them while you take some time out.

What to do about biting

Sometimes children of the same age bite each other. Usually, the same child does the biting.

The best way of dealing with biting is to:

  • remove the child who bites and give them the least attention
  • pick up the child who has received the bite

This way, biting seems unrewarding. If the other child tries to join in, remind them to wait because their behaviour was not acceptable.

Page last reviewed: 15 March 2018
Next review due: 15 March 2021