How to Deal With Toddler Temper Tantrums

You see, I wear two hats as a doctor, and one of them is that of a pediatrician.

Rob Lamberts, MD
5-minute read
Episode #10

It is Not Your Fault

Since then I have heard many similar stories from the parents in my practice. When I see the traumatized look in their eyes I tell them one thing: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Really. Between 12 and 24 months of age children go through a developmental phase in which they learn the art of humiliation. They scream, they hit, they bite, they throw things, and they often wait until there are other people around to do it.

A New Developmental Phase

When a child is under a year of age, they really don’t understand the outside world. To them, they are the world and everything else is there for them to experience. They come out of this phase around their first birthday, realizing that not only are their mommies and daddies different from them, they don’t always do what the child wants them to do. Sometimes mommy goes away. Sometimes daddy says “no.” Sometimes they have to go to bed when they want to torture the dog.

How do they handle this new realization? They try to control their environment by brute force. They scream. They do this to keep mommy from leaving. They do this to teach daddy that he shouldn’t say “no.” They do this to get what they want immediately. This is a normal developmental phase children go through in the second year of their life. It is not a sign of bad parenting; it is normal. I repeat: it is normal.

How You React Now Matters

This doesn’t mean that you reward your child for acting in ways that make you consider hard liquor -- for both you and your child. How you react to them when they do go through this phase will determine if you fight this battle when they get older. Believe me, you want to get through this phase as quickly as possible.

Before I get to my quick and dirty tips on this subject, let me mention one more group of people. There are some parents whose children don’t throw temper tantrums. Their children are always polite and kind to animals. They always sleep through the night and their diapers never stink. These are the people that make the rest of us insecure. Even though they may think it is their great parenting that caused this child to be so angelic, I can assure you that it has very little to do with them. I sometimes wonder if these are the people who write books on parenting.

Don’t worry. These people are the weirdoes, not you. Their kids are aberrations, not yours. Just forget that they exist and hear my advice. OK?


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