GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS:
Temper tantrums are usually more a problem at home than at school. The
causes can be varied but usually include the following:
1. Inconsistent means of discipline or control by adults.
2. The child may have found that temper tantrum is a very profitable
means of getting his or her own way.
3. Conflicting standards between parents or parents and grandparents,
etc. If adults disagree, these conflicting standards can not only
cause confusion on what is the proper behavior but also increase
frustration and tempermental outbursts.
4. Prolonged periods of illness, especially during very early
childhood years where the child has received a disproportionate
amount of attention and has been very used to getting his or her
5. Overcritical, harsh, or nagging parents. This can build resentment
in the child who may take his or her anger out at one or both
6. Overindulgence. Parents who tend to give in to little tantrums to
avoid conflict or upsetting the child may be inadvertently
discouraging the development of the child's ability to learn to
control his or her impulses and behavior. This can lead to even
more severe temper tantrums which the child exhibits in an attempt
to get his or her own way.
7. Imitation by the child of observed adult outbursts of temper.
Children often model their behavior and style of expressing their
emotions by modeling parental behavior.
In treatment the child needs to learn to re-learn how to handle
and express their emotions in a socially positive way. Usually it is
good to help the child understand that there is no bad feeling or wrong
feeling, there is only wrong behavior and they need to explore ways
that are okay for them to express their anger. In addition, the child
must learn that a temper tantrum never results in a victory. It is
also often helpful to work with the child's parents and to determine
which of the causes listed above may have contributed to the condition
and to remove them. In addition, the parents and adults should never
talk to or reason with the child during an emotional outburst. The
reasoning should be done sometime after the tantrum is over and the
child has had time to cool off. In addition, it is helpful to not make
any reference directly to the tantrum. The tantrum itself should not
bring attention, rather praise or encouragement should be given for the
desirable behavior when it happens.
In addition, the parents
themselves much provide an example of calm and considerate behavior.
When it becomes necessary to remove the child during a temper tantrum
because of danger to himself or others, it should be done without any
lectures and in a very calm, firm manner without comment. Giving the
child the option of going to their room until they cool off is often an
effective technique at helping them regain composure. There should be
no time limit placed on the child being in the room. The child should
simply be told that when they can calm down and regain control of
themselves they will be allowed to discuss the issues with their
parents. Tantrums usually quickly subside without an audience.