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House Call: Toddlers, Tantrums and Time-Outs – Dealing with Them

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Unfortunately, temper tantrums are common occurrences during the toddler years. Because this behavior sparks such frustration in parents, it’s often hard to properly deal with the situation. 

The first thing to keep in mind is to maintain control of your own emotions and reactions toward your child’s tantrum.  Because temper tantrums are commonly a cry for attention and a toddler’s attempt to get what they want, it is often best for parents or caregivers to ignore or walk away from the episode. 

It is also a good idea to keep a ‘bag of tricks’ to redirect the child’s attention to something else.  With toddlers, who have shorter attention spans than older children, using humor or ‘silly faces’ are often successful, immediate interventions. 

It is also important for parents to learn proper ways to discipline their children for throwing temper tantrums.  By spanking or getting physical with the child, they are more likely to learn this form of behavior, and use it in the future toward others. Putting a child in time-out is a more effective way of discipline because it enforces the consequence of misbehavior, and allows time for both the child and parent to calm their emotions. 

If a child’s temper tantrums become so frequent that they are beginning to interfere with the entire household and daily routines, parents and/or caregivers should discuss the situation with their child’s doctor.  Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care physicians, pediatricians, behavioral health specialists and other-related healthcare providers dedicated to caring for children in the community during their important developmental years.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Melissa Lowe is a pediatrician at Carolina Pediatrics and a member of Cone Health Medical Staff.  Dr. Lowe is a 1991 graduate of Medical University of South Carolina.  She completed pediatric residencies at Carolinas Medical Center and University of Texas Medical Branch.  Dr. Lowe also participates in UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine student preceptorship programs, teaching pediatric residents.