Written by Feba Maryann 

Temper tantrums are nothing new to parents of toddlers. However, when the child is shrieking and rolling on the floor of the supermarket while grocery shopping, it is only normal that the caregiver is a little taken aback. More than finding ways to calm the child down, the stares of onlooker’s gets parent breaking out in a sweat.  

If you are intimidated by the prospect of another unmanageable temper tantrum happening in a public place, this article will help you get prepared to handle the situation better next time.    

What Are Temper Tantrums? 

It may come across as an absurd reason, but a temper tantrum is a way through which the child can communicate large and complex messages to their parent. Nothing conveys uncomfortable emotions as clear as a toddler screaming and hitting in the middle of a casual shopping trip. Typically seen in children until they turn 4 or 5, a temper tantrum can be noted by the signs like crying, thrashing, yelling, holding their breath, limp or stiffened body, or hitting.  

The temper tantrum is a reaction to a minor inconvenience blown out of proportion and it is set off by small incidents most of the time. Most temper tantrums subside within 15 minutes and the incidence of tantrums reduces gradually as the child grows.  

Why Is Your Toddler Throwing a Tantrum?  

Even though temper tantrums are normal in the course of development, the reason behind each episode can vary. Some tantrums rise out of the frustration that things are not going the way the child expected. Maybe you said no to a toy purchase or denied the request for a treat and the toddler did not like that. Most of the time, these tantrums are the ones that surface in public settings. More often than not, the frustration may be rooted in hunger. A hungry toddler is more likely to throw a tantrum than a well-fed one.  

Another reason why your toddler could be throwing a temper tantrum is that they are overstimulated. The bright lights, loud noises, or an overload of a variety of sensations might have them feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable. Toddlers also cause a scene with their behaviour and emotions when they are tired. Skipping out on a good night’s sleep or a nap can make a toddler prone to feeling a more negative mood. 

Other times, toddlers simply throw tantrums because they want their parent’s attention to themselves. The crying and yelling might all be done just to make you look at them. Whatever the reason behind the episode might be, one common factor present here is that the toddler does not have enough words to convey the extent and depth of what they are feeling. In simple words, too many feelings and not enough words are behind temper tantrums.  

Managing Temper Tantrums in Toddlers 

Rather than preventing the toddler from throwing tantrums, it is better to equip yourself to manage one. In the long run, it is the better choice for your child. Here are a few ways to handle the heat of a temper tantrum: 

Turning A Blind Eye: 

Sometimes, the best way to manage a temper tantrum is to let it run its course. Especially for tantrums thrown in order to get something that you denied, ignoring the situation is the best way to prevent similar situations in the future. 

Staying calm: When your child is getting worked up, if you lose your cool as well, the situation will get messier. So, in case of an ongoing temper tantrum, make sure that you are in control of your emotions so that you can soothe your toddler as they wind up the tantrum. 


If your toddler is creating a ruckus in an inappropriate place, the safest option you have is to distract them. Maybe hand them their favourite toy or point out something interesting in the surrounding.  


The human instinct of ‘fight-or-flight’ is applicable to parents handling a child throwing a temper tantrum as well. If your child is not calming down, pick them up and get out of the setting as soon as possible. In case the tantrum was due to something environmental, the toddler can feel at ease then.   

Final Thoughts  

Temper tantrums can get loud, messy, and sometimes embarrassing. However, they play a significant role in a child’s development. No matter how difficult the tantrum looks, never yell back, or hit the toddler in retaliation. This only sends a wrong message to the child.  

As toddlers grow, equipping them with proper ways to communicate their emotions and needs can reduce the instances of tantrums. If temper tantrums occur frequently even after the age of 5, consult an expert depending on the severity and frequency of the tantrums.