Toddler Tantrums

What are Toddler Tantrums and How Parents Should Respond?

Toddler Tantrums

What are toddler tantrums? 

Toddler tantrums are the children’s way of expressing their emotions, frustrations, and anger. Emotions are natural but initially, children are not aware of the socially acceptable ways to express these emotions. Therefore, children express what they feel in a way that appears to adults as ‘tantrums’. At the time of a tantrum, a child may scream, cry or act aggressively. Actually, the child is not manipulating or trying to disturb you by doing this. A toddler going through a tantrum is feeling the intensity of emotions inside him or her and expressing it in his way. There are many factors triggering the tantrums. These toddler tantrums could be because of anger, loneliness, tiredness, fatigue, boredom, not having the opportunity to play or run, or any other similar factor.

What is the difference between tantrums and meltdowns?

Tantrums are expressions of anger and meltdowns are expressions of sadness. Both are the ways children use to express their emotions. 

At what age toddler tantrums can start?

It can vary from child to child but usually, toddler tantrums start at the age of 1.5 years and last until the 5th year of age. As a parent, help them learn the process of emotional regulation and socially acceptable but healthy ways for expressing their intense and big emotions.

Why do children do tantrums and meltdowns?

Children are going through emotional development and learning to express themselves. Unlike adults, they don’t know to express their anger and emotions in a socially acceptable way. Therefore, their expressions are spontaneous and instant. They express instantly what they feel inside them. Tantrums are not bad behavior but it is quite normal.

Are tantrums normal?

Yes, it’s quite normal to express emotions. This is how children express their emotions initially. However, if the duration of a tantrum prolongs unusually, it could be because of some irritation or illness. In that case, there is a need to see the doctor. 

Should parents intervene to stop the tantrums?

Suppressing the emotions of a child is not appropriate action during tantrums. Instead, parents should be available emotionally and try to know the reason for the tantrums. If the child wants to hug you, be available for the hug. Instead of directly telling the child to stop tantrums and asking for playing football etc., tell the child, ” I am available when you will like to play football or go outside with me.” 

Practical tips for working parents

What do when children act violently during tantrums?

Children may act violently during the tantrums with parents or siblings. During the tantrum, they can try to hit, bite, kick or use objects to hit parents or other siblings/children. In this situation create some physical distance and tell the child that you know he is angry, frustrated, or irritated but it is not ok to hit others. During tantrums children can try harm themselves such as some children may pull their hair etc. Provide them sensory or soft toys or pillows for this purpose. They need some sensory things to vent out their overwhelming emotions which they feel inside but can not understand and not aware that how to express these emotions. 

Gentle parenting is most appropriate way to respond during the toddler tantrums. Read more about Gentle Parenting Techniques in this article.  

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