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Is it normal for my toddler to throw so many tantrums?

by Courtney Gupta

It is developmentally appropriate for toddlers to throw temper tantrums. Two year olds are developing a sense of independence and will power, but they don’t yet have the skills to control their emotions or needs. Also, toddlers struggle to communicate their needs, either because they’re still learning to talk or because they don’t understand what they need, want, and feel yet. Because of this they are more likely to have a tantrum when hungry, tired, sick, or emotionally charged. Try to ward off tantrums by paying attention to your child’s physical and emotional needs and meeting those needs before a meltdown. When your child is having a tantrum, try not to ignore or distract her; instead, let her feel the emotions she needs to express. Comfort her and stay close to her. If we don’t allow our children to release their feelings, they will just become pent up and tantrums will happen more often.  

It is so important not to take a child’s temper tantrum personally. When a child is having a meltdown she is beyond reason and she really cannot control herself. It is similar to an adult who has a panic attack. When you’re having a panic attack you don’t want to be yelled at, reasoned with, or punished, you just need someone to calmly acknowledge what’s happening and give you a hug. Toddlers need the same thing when having a meltdown. Consider practicing deep breathing techniques with your child so that when she is having a tantrum she has tools to help calm herself down.

All that being said, it is not developmentally appropriate for an older preschooler to have frequent or extended tantrums. By four years old, children should have some self-control over their emotions and needs. If you are concerned about your preschooler’s behavior, please call our parenting phone line at 844.456.5437 to talk to one of our care coordinators. You can also fill out a Social Emotional Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-SE2) to check your child’s social emotional development.

Read more information on how to cope with tantrums.

If you prefer to listen, Janet Lansbury has a great podcast episode called “Public Tantrums (Why They Happen and How to Avoid Them).”

  • emotional
  • tantrums
  • Toddler

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