It is helpful to know that temper tantrums are common in children between the ages of 15 moths and four years old. If you are a new parent, this information is especially good to know. The important thing is for a parent to learn how to react when this happens.
I f you are presently a parent or have been a parent of a child in this age group, you will be familiar with the following dialogue:
Parent: “Put down your toys. It’s time for your nap.”
Child: “no,” or “no, I don’t want to.”
The above dialogue continues for a little while and when the child realizes that the parent means business, the child starts screaming, shouting, banging, or kicking.
The important rule here is not to give in to the child. According to the book, Taking Care of Your Child, “A good approach to temper tantrums is to ignore the tantrums as much as possible and not let the child get his or her own way after the tantrum.”
It is also important to remember that if you punish a child for his actions, and then allow him/her to repeat the tantrums at another time without punishment, the child will not learn a lesson and the tantrums will continue. The important message here is to be consistent. If you tell your child to do something, let that child know that you mean it.
Taking Care of Your Child has another interesting approach to a child who has a temper. When the child is older, this book states, “Parents should teach them to verbalize, rather than demonstrate their feelings.” This will be easier for the parent to deal rationally with verbal, rather than physical protests.
There are small children who are known to hold their breath before a temper tantrum. The book states that conflict, frustration, anger, a contest of wills, are responsible for breath holding spells in some children.
In some cases, when a child holds his/her breath, if it’s prolonged, the child may become blue. This child may temporarily become limp and unconscious. A breath-holding spell can lead to a seizure. According to James E. Fries, M.D. one of the authors of Taking Care of Your Child, he says, “Although an episode of a seizure can be extremely frightening, damage is quite rare.” It is good to be aware of the fact that breath-holding spells almost always resolve by the age of five.
Taking Care of Your Child by James F. Fries, M.D., Robert Pantell, M.D., and Donald Vickery, M.D.