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Treatment of Temper Tantrum

Temper Tantrum

A tantrum (or temper tantrum or tirade or hissy fit or wobbly) is an emotional outburst, usually associated with children or those in emotional distress, that is typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, yelling, shrieking, defiance, angry ranting, a resistance to attempts at pacification and, in some cases, violence. Physical control may be lost, the person may be unable to remain still, and even if the "goal" of the person is met he or she may not be calmed.

Temper tantrums or "acting-out" behaviors are natural during early childhood development. Children have a normal and natural tendency to assert their independence as they learn they are separate beings from their parents. This desire for control often shows up as saying "no" often and having tantrums. These are worsened by the fact that the child may not have the vocabulary to express his or her feelings.

Tantrums usually begin around age 12 - 18 months. They get worse between 2 and 3 years, then decrease rapidly until age 4. After age 4, they should rarely occur. Being tired, hungry, or sick, can make tantrums worse or more frequent.

Why do tantrums happen?

A tantrum is the expression of a young child's frustration with the challenges of the moment.

Perhaps your child is having trouble figuring something out or completing a specific task. Maybe your child can't find the words to express his or her thoughts or feelings. Whatever the challenge, frustration with the situation might trigger anger — resulting in a temper tantrum.

Some reasons children have temper tantrums include the following:

  • Your child wants to be on his own, and get upset when he cannot do what he wants.
  • Your child is trying to get attention to test the rules.
  • Your child has something taken away from him.
  • Your child has not learned all the words to tell you what he feels or wants, and this upsets him.
  • Your child doesn't understand what you want him to do.
  • Your child is tired or hungry.
  • Your child is worried or upset.
  • Your child feels stress in the home.


Characteristics of Temper Tantrums:

All young children from time to time will whine, complain, resist, cling, argue, hit, shout, run, and defy their teachers and parents. Temper tantrums, although normal, can become upsetting to teachers and parents because they are embarrassing, challenging, and difficult to manage. On the other hand, temper tantrums can become special problems when they occur with greater frequency, intensity, and duration than is typical for the age of the child.

There are nine different types of temperaments in children:

  • Hyperactive temperament predisposes the child to respond with fine- or gross-motor activity.
  • Distractible temperament predisposes the child to pay more attention to his or her surroundings than to the caregiver.
  • High intensity level temperament moves the child to yell, scream, or hit hard when feeling threatened.
  • Irregular temperament moves the child to escape the source of stress by needing to eat, drink, sleep, or use the bathroom at irregular times when he or she does not really have the need.
  • Negative persistent temperament is seen when the child seems stuck in his or her whining and complaining.
  • Low sensory threshold temperament is evident when the child complains about tight clothes and people staring and refuses to be touched by others.
  • Initial withdrawal temperament is found when children get clingy, shy, and unresponsive in new situations and around unfamiliar people.
  • Poor adaptability temperament shows itself when children resist, shut down, and become passive-aggressive when asked to change activities.
  • Negative mood temperament is found when children appear lethargic, sad, and lacks the energy to perform a task.

When is professional help needed?

  • As your child's self-control improves, tantrums should become less common. Most children outgrow tantrums by age 5.
  • If your younger child's tantrums seem especially severe, your older child is still having frequent tantrums or the tantrums have pushed you beyond your ability to cope, share your concerns with your child's doctor.
  • The doctor will consider physical or psychological issues that could be contributing to the tantrums. Depending on the circumstances, you might be referred to a mental health provider or, in some cases, a school or community program.
  • Early intervention can stem future behavioral problems and help your child succeed both at home and at school.
  • If your child is thirsty, hungry or tired, his or her threshold for frustration is likely to be lower — and a tantrum more likely.

Treatment of Tantrum:

Most children learn other ways to deal with their anger and other strong emotions as they grow older and do not need medical treatment for temper tantrums. Ignoring the tantrum behavior and helping a young child learn how to handle his or her feelings is most often all that is needed.

Parenting workshops can be helpful for parents of a child who has temper tantrums. These types of programs often help parents become familiar with growth and developmental stages and provide strategies on how to handle difficult behavior.

Homeopathic Treatment of Tantrum:

In Homeopathy we use the symptoms of the behavior to guide us to a remedy. For example we look at when the tantrums started and the type of triggers that usually set the child off. We want to know what they do when they are angry and how they look (red face, white face, glazed eyes, increased strength), how long it takes to calm them down and what happens afterwards.Not every toddler throws a tantrum and not every teenager needs an attitude adjustment.  These problems are particular to the individual and are symptoms to which we ought to give our full attention.  They reflect an idiosyncratic personality that can be guided and brought to its best state through homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy is gentle and won’t change your child’s personality.  When the remedy is chosen correctly, it will bring your child into balance both physically and emotionally.

What if child becomes destructive or dangerous?

If a tantrum escalates, remove your child from the situation and enforce a timeout:

  • Select a timeout spot: Seat your child in a boring place, such as in a chair in the living room or on the floor in the hallway. Pull the chair away from the walls and furniture if you think your child might try to engage you by peeling off wallpaper or causing other types of damage.
  • Be firm: You might say, "You don't hit. Sit down."
  • Wait for your child to calm down. This might take a few minutes or longer.
  • Stick with it: If your child begins to wander around before the timeout is over, return him or her to the designated timeout spot. Remind your child that he or she is still in timeout.
  • Don't engage your child: Don't respond to anything your child says while he or she is in timeout.
  • Know when to end the timeout: When your child has calmed down, end the timeout and return to your usual activities. You might say, "You're sitting quietly. Are you ready to keep your hands to yourself?"

Prevention of Tantrums:

Be consistent: Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. Stick to the routine as much as possible, including nap time and bedtime. It's also important to set reasonable limits and follow them consistently.

Plan ahead: If you need to run errands, go when your child isn't likely to be hungry or tired. If you're expecting to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.

Encourage your child to use words: Young children understand many more words than they're able to express. If your child isn't yet speaking or speaking clearly you might teach him or her sign language for words such as "I want," "more," "drink," "hurt" and "tired." The more easily your child can communicate with you, the less likely you are to struggle with tantrums. As your child gets older, help him or her put feelings into words.

Let your child make choices: To give your toddler a sense of control, let him or her make appropriate choices. "Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?" "Would you like to eat strawberries or bananas?" "Would you like to read a book or build a tower with your blocks?" Then compliment your child on his or her choices.

Praise good behavior: Offer extra attention when your child behaves well. Give your child a hug or tell your child how proud you are when he or she shares toys, follows directions, and so on.

Use distraction to change your child's focus: If you sense frustration brewing, try to distract your child. Suggest a new activity or change location.

Avoid situations likely to trigger tantrums: If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, steer clear of "temptation islands" full of eye-level goodies. If your toddler acts up in restaurants, make reservations so that you won't have to wait — or choose restaurants that offer quick service.