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Managing behaviour

When it comes to tantrums, you are not alone and your child is definitely not the only one to ever have them. Tantrums are very common, and part and parcel of your child’s development.

Your child can have tantrums when they feel angry and frustrated. This can be for many reasons such as:

  • when they don't get what they want
  • when they are told 'No!'
  • when they are not able to manage a task
  • when they are tired
  • when the unexpected happens 
  • when they are not able to express themselves as they are too little to have the words to say how they feel
  • when they are bored

You may not always be able to understand why your child has a tantrum and there may not be any obvious reason. 

Tantrums can involve:

  • crying
  • screaming or yelling
  • stamping their feet
  • falling to the floor
  • refusing to do something or saying 'No' to you

Strategies for dealing with tantrums

If your child is having a tantrum over something like wanting a toy from the shop or sweets from the cupboard, and you have said 'No!' to them. Don't give in - this will teach your child that having a tantrum will get them what they want.

And this can cause behaviour problems down the line, so it's best to try to prevent tantrums or use these strategies to manage them:

  • playing with your child can help keep them busy and having toys/activities to stop them from getting bored
  • giving them lots of praise for the good things they do!
  • helping your child with new and difficult tasks such as putting their shoes on and brushing their teeth will help them learn how to manage these things by themselves
  • giving your child a five minute warning before something finishes i.e leaving play group or when the TV is going to be turned off will help them understand what is going to happen next so it will not be a shock
  • having a few rules for the home or going shopping can help them to know what ‘good behaviour’ is such as ‘having snacks after dinner time’ or ‘holding my hand on the way to the shops’

When tantrums are unexpected, ignoring them can be a useful tactic. This can be difficult if your child is really upset but ignoring their tantrums or demands can help your child to understand that they will not get their own way. 

There is no point in trying to talk to your child or reason with them during a tantrum, it's best to wait till they have calmed down.

Watch this short film from for more advice about tantrums and the terrible twos.

Staying calm

Try to stay calm and patient. Walking out of the room, sitting down or counting to 10 can help. As long as your child is not hurting themselves or others then they will eventually stop.

Managing behaviour of older children and young people

Children and young people whose early social and emotional development is positive are more likely to make friends, settle well into nursery/school and understand how to behave appropriately in different situations. They have strong self-esteem and a sense of self-worth, but also have a feeling of empathy for others. They understand what the boundaries are, and why they are necessary.

 Behaviour has a significant impact on current and later success for children and young people, in terms of their social skills, education and employment.

Tips for managing behaviour

  • being a positive role model - showing children and young people what is appropriate behaviour by setting a positive example in your own behaviour
  • showing respect - to children, young people and other adults by the way you listen, your facial expressions, your body language and by what you say
  • praising children and young people - when they have shown positive and appropriate behaviour - for example, when they have been helpful to another child
  • organising the environment - to make it easier for children and young people to understand why they need to be patient or to take turns
  • intervening calmly - to stop children and young people hurting each other or behaving in an unsafe way
  • giving a simple explanation or alternative - to the child or young person who is finding it difficult to observe boundaries
Need to talk

Need to talk?

If you would like to talk to one of our local Family Support workers to see how we can help, pop into one of our family centres, email or phone 020 8753 6070.

We're here to help with tailored support for you and your family - just ask!

Houra from Masbro

Worried about a child?

If you are worried about a child or young person, please call our team on 020 8753 6600.

If you are worried that a child or young person is at immediate risk, please contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 500 or or call the police on 999

Remember Childline is always there for any young person online and on the phone anytime. If you are worried about yourself or a friend they are there for you.