Tantrums tend to start around 18 months and become less common by age 4. During a tantrum a child will often shout, scream and cry. They may also kick, hit or bite. Tantrums are very common and almost all young children have them. Some more than others. They can feel stressful as a parent or carer. Remember this is a normal phase of your child's development and it will pass.




Please see the video below with information on the best way to deal with tantrums.


All children have tantrums. It is normal. Tantrums happen because young children cannot express themselves easily. Toddlers want independence and become frustrated when this can't or doesn't happen. Remind yourself that it won’t always be like this! Tantrums tend to decrease by age 4. At this age they can better understand the world around them and tell you their needs and wants. 

Tantrums can happen when a child is:

  • Hungry
  • Tired
  • Feeling ignored
  • Feeling worried
  • Feeling frustrated

You cannot prevent all tantrums but there are things you can do to avoid some of them.

Parenting strategies that can help to reduce tantrums and raise happy children:


  • Give praise. Make a point of noticing and commenting on good behaviours, for example "you are playing very nicely with your brother”. Your child will learn that they get attention for acting in the way you would like them to
  • Learn to spot triggers or early signs
  • Have a plan to distract them if you feel a tantrum is brewing
  • Prevent them from getting over tired, hungry, thirsty or overstimulated
  • Think ahead when going out to manage boredom, bring a toy or book
  • Set clear rules so your child knows what to expect and be consistent
  • Explain your actions, for example, if you take away a toy because your children are arguing over it, then explain this
  • Recognise their feelings, for example, ‘it seems like you are feeling angry at the moment’
  • Let them know it's ok to have that feeling
  • Giving them a hug might help
  • Look after yourself too. Make time for yourself and ask for help if needed

Sometimes tantrums happen no matter what you do to avoid them. Trust your instincts to know when your child is having a tantrum versus being in real distress or pain.

  • Stay calm. Stop. Breathe. Speak slowly and quietly. Don't worry about what other people may think if you are out in public. If you stay calm others are more likely to carry on as normal as you will appear in control of the situation.
  • Distraction. Reading a book, singing, point out something interesting, for example a bus going past. Don’t bribe them with sweets.
  • Ignore the tantrum. Stay nearby. Give them time. Make sure your child is safe and explain that you will be there for them when they have calmed down.
  • Don’t give in if they’re asking for something and you’ve said no. Your child may then see tantrums as a way of getting what they want.
  • Reassure your child once they are calmer. Talk to them about their feelings. If they are old enough, talk about how they might deal with those feelings differently next time. When the tantrum is over don't keep talking about it as this may make your child feel bad.
  • Give them a hug. You both might enjoy a cuddle as the tantrum settles. 
  • Keep them safe. If you feel overwhelmed make sure your child is in a safe place and move away until you feel calmer. Remember that smacking always makes toddler behaviour worse and can make children afraid of you.

If you are struggling to cope with your child's behaviour talk to your Health Visitor or GP.

Family Lives provide help and support on all aspects of parenting and family life. You can call them Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm and on weekends 10am to 3pm on 0808 800 222

Local Health Visiting Teams:

Bradford or call - 01274 221223

Wakefield or call - 0300 373 0944 (local rate number)

Craven or call - 01423 544265

Leeds or call - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Kirklees or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

All community pharmacies across England are required to be Healthy Living Pharmacies. This means that they are able to offer advice on a range of healthy living matters which includes eating a healthy diet. They can provide information leaflets and give parents, carers and young people more information about other organisations that might also be able to help.

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare, and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment, and many have private consultation areas. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns, or to the Community Paediatricians, or the child and adolescent mental health services.


Contact your local Health Visiting Team:

Bradford Health Visitors or call - 01274 221223

Wakefield Health Visitors or call - 0300 373 0944

Craven Health Visitors or call - 01423 544265

Leeds Health Visitors or call - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Kirklees Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

For more information about what Health Visitors do: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5 to19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and, or emotional health needs.


Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse. Phone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Contact your local school nursing team:

Bradford School Nurses 01274 221203

Wakefield School Nurses (0 to 19 service) 0300 373 0944 (local rate number)

Leeds School Nurses 0113 843 5683

Calderdale School Nurses 030 3330 9974 (local rate number)

Kirklees School Nurses 0300 304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

All children should be registered with a GP. Anyone in England can register for free with a GP surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

How to find your local GP.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Please note, the online version of NHS 111 is only recommended for children over the age of 5. If your child is under 5 years old, please phone 111.

NHS 111 can also direct you to your nearest urgent treatment centre (minor injuries unit or walk-in centre).

Find your local urgent treatment centre.

When to visit an urgent treatment centre.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • major trauma such as road traffic collisions

If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.