15- to 18-Month Checkup: Healthy Kids Series

This parenting information is part of the "Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures" series. These fact sheets may be given out by Group Health at routine checkups.


Healthy Habits



Temper Tantrums

The facts:

Preventing tantrums:

When your child has a tantrum:

If your child is frustrated or tired, comfort and soothe them. Praise what your child does well. Be understanding. Put child to bed if tired or feed if hungry.

If your child is being demanding, ignore his or her tantrums. Move to a different room so child does not have an audience. Reasoning with child usually makes tantrum worse. Do not give in to tantrums.

If your child is refusing to do something, don't overreact. Many toddlers will say no to almost any request. Don't punish just for saying no. If your child refuses to do something important like going to day care, gently pick your child up and take him or her to day care. If child refuses to do something unimportant, let it go. Choose your battles carefully and do not yell or spank, which makes tantrums worse.

If your child is being disruptive, such as having a tantrum in a public place and hitting, take child to your car for 2 to 5 minutes. Do not yell, but talk in an even, neutral tone. Allow child time to calm down.

If your child is totally out of control and screaming wildly, or if there is danger of self-injury (throwing self backwards), hold child until the body starts to relax (usually 1 to 3 minutes) or put in a safe quiet area (floor of room) to calm down.

If your child is holding his or her breath, stay calm. Some children hold their breath during a severe temper tantrum and will turn blue and sometimes faint for a short period of time. Although frightening, the child will awaken within 60 seconds. Try not to overreact. This can reinforce the behavior.

Suggested Resources


Suggested reading

Next well-child visit: 24 months/2 years

Adapted with permission from Kaiser Permanente.

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Clinical review by Ted Fahy, MD
Group Health
Reviewed 04/01/2013