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10 Ways to Tame Your Kid's Tantrums

The smart parent's guide to coping with your kid's fits.
preschooler throwing fit

When your kid's in the middle of a tantrum, it can be tough to keep yourself from having your own meltdown, too.


"Meltdowns are terrible, nasty things, but they're a fact of childhood," says Ray Levy, PhD, a Dallas-based clinical psychologist and co-author of Try and Make Me! Simple Strategies That Turn Off the Tantrums and Create Cooperation. "Young kids -- namely those between the ages of 1 and 4 -- haven't developed good coping skills yet. They tend to just lose it instead." And what, exactly, sets them off to begin with? Every single tantrum, Levy says, results from one simple thing: not getting what they want. "For children between 1 and 2, tantrums often stem from trying to communicate a need -- more milk, a diaper change, that toy over there -- but not having the language skills to do it," says Levy. "They get frustrated when you don't respond to what they're 'saying' and throw a fit." For older toddlers, tantrums are more of a power struggle. "By the time kids are 3 or 4, they have grown more autonomous," Levy adds. "They're keenly aware of their needs and desires -- and want to assert them more. If you don't comply? Tantrum city."


So how can you stop these outbursts? What follows are 10 freak-out fixes that both parenting experts and other moms swear by.