Toddler Tantrums – Why They're A Good Thing

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You can feel the piercing stares, you imagine the judgemental whispers, you wish the ground would swallow you up…

When your tot kicks off in the supermarket, or any public space for that matter, it can be highly embarrassing. How can one tiny person create so much noise?  

But toddler tantrums are not only common, they are actually a sign that your child is developing normally. So don’t panic! Meltdowns don’t mean you’re a bad parent. Quite the opposite.  

Why do tantrums happen?

You may have heard of the “terrible twos”, but toddler tantrums can start at around 18 months and continue until your child reaches three. Tantrums are how young children show extreme emotions – such as frustration over not getting what they want or need. They can occur when your child is angry, tired, hungry or uncomfortable and often when they can’t communicate this to you.

What’s normal?

Don’t worry, you haven’t created a monster! It’s actually normal for temper tantrums to involve stamping, hitting, biting and screaming at this early age. Other emotional outbursts could involve uncontrolled crying and your child throwing themselves on the floor. It’s all perfectly ordinary, albeit challenging, behaviour for a toddler.

What do I do?

At this tender age, your child hasn’t learned how to communicate or handle strong emotions yet. It helps to remind yourself, constantly, that flare-ups don’t mean that your child is naughty, out of control, or on a mission to wind you up personally.

The best thing you can do is stay calm. Even if this means leaving the room (if it’s safe to do so) and taking a few deep breaths before returning. If your child is upset rather than angry, a big cuddle may help – making your child feeling comforted and secure.

Wait it out. Once the meltdown is over you can have an age appropriate chat about other ways to handle being cross or sad. Then reward your child the next time they cope with things better.  

If you’re out and about, ignore what others think. Many parents will have been through exactly the same thing and actually sympathise. While others, who might judge, have it yet to come!   

Stand your ground. You’ve got this! Although it can be tempting to panic and give in to buying that toy in the supermarket, or giving extra sweets to keep the peace, teaching your child that tantrums yield the result they want just reinforces the behaviour.

So, go on then, why is this a good thing?

Well, as outlined above, tantrums show healthy development. They often occur because you’ve set clear boundaries, and this means you’re doing your job as a parent and not giving in to your child’s every whim.

They also show that your toddler feels secure with you, safe in the knowledge you’ll love them no matter how they behave.

Tantrums are also a great opportunity to teach your child about handling emotions in a healthy way. After they’ve calmed down you can ask “why did you throw your toy? “What would be a better to way to get Mummy or Daddy to listen?”

 Although toddlerhood soon passes, showing your little one that you are calm and consistent, and love them unconditionally, at this early age sets healthy boundaries which will benefit you both in later life.

You can seek lots of other advice on handling tantrums from various parenting resources. If you are still worried about toddler tantrums, do speak to your health visitor or GP, who can offer further advice.   

 

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