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Taming Your Child's Temper Tantrums

by Vicky McEvoy with Karen Weintraub

We’ve all been there, watching a child throw himself to the floor or scream loud and long enough to wake the dead. If you were lucky, the child was someone else’s. If not, you probably wondered what you did to deserve such a terrible child, or what your child did to deserve such a terrible parent. In Taming Your Child's Temper Tantrums, Dr. Victoria McEvoy explains that tantrums are a totally normal—though unfortunate—part of early childhood. Most of the time the behavior is mercifully short-lived. McEvoy helps parents see the tantrum from the child’s perspective, offers suggestions for dealing with them, and advice on when to seek professional help. Among her tips:

• Many tantrums can be headed off before they begin, by meeting your child’s need for food, sleep, exercise, attention and control.
• Don’t over-react to early tantrums. If your child learns that you’ll cave at the first scream, you’re setting yourself up for many more unpleasant afternoons.
• Be on the lookout for things you may be doing to encourage your child’s tantrums. Remember, she is the one throwing the fit, but you’ve set the stage she’s throwing it on.
• If tantrums continue beyond the third year, get worse, or seem to be unprovoked, it’s time to redouble your detective work. With the help of family, friends and professionals you can figure out what’s going on with your child.


Dr. Victoria Rogers McEvoy is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Pediatrician on the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital. She is the Medical Director and Chief of Pediatrics of Mass General West Medical Group. Her column “The Exam Room” appeared in the Boston Globe for several years, she wrote a blog in the Health section of, and her book, The 24/7 Baby Doctor: A Harvard Pediatrician Answers All Your Questions from Birth to One Year, was published in 2010.

Karen Weintraub is a longtime medical journalist who was on staff at the Boston Globe and has also written for USA Today, BBC and other outlets. She has written two other Harvard Health Publications books: The Autism Revolution with Dr. Martha Herbert was published by Ballantine Books in 2012, and Fast Minds about adult ADHD with Drs. Craig Surman and Timothy Bilkey, Berkley Books in 2013.

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