6 Things You Don’t Know About Tantrums
What research tells us about meltdowns, including the scientifically proven way to stop them
5. Tantrums are normal but not every day
Occasional conniptions are no cause for concern: In one study of more 1,500 three- to five-year-olds by Lauren Wakschlag at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, 84 percent had thrown a tantrum in the past month. But daily outbursts aren’t the norm, either, with less than one in ten children fitting in this category. If your child’s tantrums are more frequent, and occur out of the blue—verses at predictable intervals like when he’s tired or doesn’t want to get dressed—consider bringing it up with your doctor to rule out potential psychological issues like ADHD. In the past, pediatricians used the same behavioral yardstick for younger and older children, resulting in an overdiagnosis of behavioral problems. Wakschlag’s work hopes to fix that by observing patterns based on age.
6. It’s OK to cave under certain circumstances
If you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place—i.e., you’re late getting somewhere and your child is clamoring for a lollipop—sometimes the best course for your sanity is to give in. But you should fold immediately—don’t deny their request, then give in later, since “this teaches your kid that if they’re sufficiently persistent they’ll get what they want. It’s training for a long-distance tantrum,” warns Michael Potegal at the University of Minnesota. “If you can’t win, don’t fight. It’s the age-old advice of pick your battles.”