Cart 0

Understanding and Managing Toddler Tantrums

What is a temper tantrum? A temper tantrum is an age-appropriate expression of frustration, anger, or sadness, as explained by Mary Ann Little, PhD., a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. These outbursts are highly common, with nearly all children under the age of 5 experiencing them at some point, according to Emily Mudd, PhD, a pediatric psychologist at the Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, Cleveland Clinic. Little adds that preschool-age children lack the emotional and verbal skills to manage their feelings, leading them to act out.

There is no standardized temper tantrum; they manifest in various forms, says Mudd. To identify them, observe dysregulated behavior that deviates from your child's typical demeanor. In the case of the youngest children, expect more extreme signs such as throwing themselves on the floor, screaming, tossing objects, kicking, or running away. As they grow older, these behaviors may evolve into banging on tables or stomping feet, progressing to expressing negative thoughts through crude phrases ("I hate you"), more acceptable phrases ("I'm really mad at you"), and eventually statements with explanations ("I'm mad at you because you won't let me buy that jacket").

When do tantrums start? They can commence as early as 18 months and typically persist until around the age of 5. This phase often coincides with a child's mobility without the development of sufficient language and emotional skills, according to Mudd.

Causes of toddler tantrums include physical factors such as fatigue, hunger, illness, and overstimulation, all of which can contribute individually or collectively to a temper tantrum. Changes in routine can also lead to dysregulation, explains Mudd. Additionally, not getting what they want, frustration with life's challenges, and a desire for control and independence can trigger tantrums.

To cope with toddler tantrums, it's essential to have a plan in place, advises Michelle Tangeman, LMFT, BCBA, a licensed therapist and behavior analyst. This may involve taking the child outside in public settings or repeating a calming mantra. Remaining calm is crucial, as an upset adult cannot effectively regulate an upset child, says Mudd. Expressing empathy without giving in, keeping the child safe during an outburst, and teaching them more acceptable behaviors are essential strategies.

Avoiding worrying, losing your temper, scolding, punishing, ignoring your child, reasoning with your toddler, giving in to tantrums, and being impatient are crucial during these episodes. Instead, validate the child's feelings, distract them, and keep them safe.

While many toddler tantrums cannot be prevented, certain actions can help reduce their frequency. Fulfilling their needs, spending quality time with them, distracting them, praising positive behavior, offering them control over small decisions, and teaching them to manage emotions are all effective strategies.

Toddler tantrums, though challenging, are important for a child's social, emotional, and cognitive development. As challenging as they may be, these episodes provide an opportunity for parents to model how to manage big feelings for their children.

Older Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published



Sold Out