Temper tantrums can be frightening to families, especially when those tantrums continue on an ongoing basis. It can be frightening to the child who feels that they are losing control. The anxiety that they generate can be felt for a prolonged period of time, long after the outburst itself. A child's unbridled anger causes parents to feel helpless, and a parent may begin to question him/herself and wonder who is really in control in this house. For both adults and children alike, these uncontrollable negative emotions are uncomfortable and unpleasant.

A child chooses this behavior as a way to vent feelings for a variety of reasons. The most common and simple cause of milder temper tantrums is that the child is spoiled. A spoiled child will often have his parents wrapped around his finger. He will know how to manipulate his parents and will understand that his parents' embarrassment over a publicly screaming child will cause them to give in to anything. A parent needs to scrutinize his reactions to his child's behavior which allow for such behavior to exist publicly. To change a reaction, a parent needs to change their initial response to their child. If a child really believes that "no" is "no" and not "maybe," perhaps these tantrums will not occur. If a child really believes that screaming publicly will only incur worse consequences later on, perhaps a child will attempt other means to gain what he desires. A parent must honestly take stock and ask himself if he is being consistent in his words and actions. If one is consistent, tantrums are less likely to occur, because the child knows that the tantrum will not change things, and that there will be negative consequences due to his screaming.

A more serious type of temper tantrum is that of the very frustrated child. These are children that fight with siblings and begin to have temper tantrums when they are unable to express themselves verbally. Their inability to express themselves and deal with anger causes them to become more and more frustrated, until their emotions can only be expressed through tears and general uncontrollability. This type of child cannot usually be reached by a rational problem-solving parent, as the child's response itself is no longer logical. Consumed by a feeling of "not being understood," a parent's logical explanation of the child's problem will not dissipate his pain. Instead, a child needs to have an "illogical" response, in a sense. As the child cannot find the words to express his outrage, a parent can try and formulate what the parents think the child might be feeling. An example of this might be, "Chani started up with you. She called you stupid – it's not fair."

Though Chani may not appreciate having you "take her sister's side," this is often necessary to help allow the child to form their thoughts and give them passageway to leave the realm of hysteria. Once the screaming child is calmer, a more honest appraisal of the situation can be made by both siblings.

In such a situation, punishment for the tantrum is not usually helpful. The child's anger was due to extreme frustration, and not due to a desire to manipulate others. After such an episode, attempting prevention of future outbursts is a more constructive way of dealing with this problem.

Prevention of tantrums could involve discussing ways of appropriately expressing anger. Asking a child what she might have wanted her parent to do in the actual situation is another example of what can be done. However, the child's suggestion may not be able to be carried out in a future circumstance, and a parent needs to explain why this idea would not be possible. Ultimately, a child needs to be allowed to express frustration and see his parents desire to work together with him.

Sometimes temper tantrums reflect a more global problem that is occurring in the home. It might be a family, medical, or even emotional crisis. Whatever the cause, a child can sometimes almost "absorb" the tension of the home, internalizing an overwhelming feeling of tension, and is only able to vent these feelings in fits of rage. Such anger expresses the anxiety of the home, and the problem needs to be resolved within the family system.

In some cases, uncontrollable tantrums reflect a more severe problem within an individual child and professional help is necessary. In such cases, a more in-depth approach needs to be followed.

Working with anger is a lifetime task, difficult for both parent and child. Yet helping a child effectively cope with negative emotions is a tremendous gift that all parents can give to their children.