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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

How to Temper a Tantrum

There's a time during childhood when something as innocuous as an impending bedtime can cause uncontrollable tears, screaming and thrashing. The question for parents and caregivers is: What's the best way to deal with a tantrum?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about why people throw temper tantrums and how to deal with them in the future.

There are a couple things to remember when it comes to tantrums. The first is that kids throw tantrums, in part, because their brains are not yet fully developed. The region of the brain responsible for helping to inhibit aggressive, spontaneous behavior just isn’t quite ready to deal with the wrong socks, or bedtime, or turning off the iPad.

That is not to say that kids can’t stop themselves from erupting when they’re angry or develop tools to help them deal with tantrums. It just takes practice and time to learn to temper yourself when you’re upset. This also goes for adults with fully developed brains: They throw tantrums too. But parents should maybe give their kids a break, as they’ve got a lot going on between their ears.

Any energy a parent adds to tantrums just fuels the fire. The best thing to do is to leave the kids alone (as long as they’re safe) and let them tantrum until they chill. After the storm has calmed, parents should give it some time, then talk about more constructive ways of dealing with anger and frustration.

You can listen to the full episode either above or below.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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