PARENTING

Toddlers, Tantrums and what to Expect.

By DR KEN MYERS

Posted  February 22 2016 | 0 Shares

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Toddlers, Tantrums and what to Expect. (Toddlers: 1 to 3 years)

Through the first year of life, children’s ability to explore their world and interact with others is limited by their relatively undeveloped motor and communication skills. Once they can walk and talk, however, they are much better equipped to explore and develop their own autonomy. Inevitably, conflicts will arise as toddlers test the boundaries of their environment and their caregivers’ emotions and authority. Some common behaviours that frequently develop during toddlerhood include the following.

Temper Tantrums

Almost all toddlers will have temper tantrums at some point as they develop more advanced methods of communicating unhappiness and experiment with testing the bounds of caregiver authority. A typical tantrum may involve any or all of crying, screaming, stomping feet, kicking or throwing objects, and falling to the floor. The child’s emotions often cycle between sadness and anger, and parents may learn to notice patterns over time. The length of tantrums is variable, though the vast majority will be less than five minutes (Potegal et al., 2003). Toddlers will commonly average more than one tantrum per day. These meltdowns most commonly occur around meals or bed time, but can be triggered by virtually anything.

Although tantrums are considered a normal part of development, parents may be able to develop techniques to recognise an oncoming event and initiate a strategy to prevent or minimize a full scale event. Hunger, tiredness and frustration with tasks are all common triggers for tantrums, which can be dealt with if parents identify the signs early on. Giving the child a snack, suggesting a short nap or lie down, or simply re-directing from a frustrating activity, may all be enough to avoid an oncoming meltdown.

In rare situations, temper tantrums may be a symptom of a true medical disorder. Families should consider consulting their GP or paediatrician if their toddler’s tantrums are occurring more than five times per day or frequently last longer than 15 minutes (Daniels et al., 2012). Although tantrums are a developmental stage children should grow out of, medication may be considered in extreme cases, particularly if there is concern about harm to family members, other children or the child having the tantrum themselves.     

Reviewed by DR KEN MYERS 22 February 2016 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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Toddlers, Tantrums and what to Expect.

PARENTING

Toddlers, Tantrums and what to Expect. (Toddlers: 1 to 3 years)

Through the first year of life, children’s ability to explore their world and interact with others is limited by their relatively undeveloped motor and communication skills. Once they can walk and talk, however, they are much better equipped to explore and develop their own autonomy. Inevitably, conflicts will arise as toddlers test the boundaries of their environment and their caregivers’ emotions and authority. Some common behaviours that frequently develop during toddlerhood include the following.

Temper Tantrums

Almost all toddlers will have temper tantrums at some point as they develop more advanced methods of communicating unhappiness and experiment with testing the bounds of caregiver authority. A typical tantrum may involve any or all of crying, screaming, stomping feet, kicking or throwing objects, and falling to the floor. The child’s emotions often cycle between sadness and anger, and parents may learn to notice patterns over time. The length of tantrums is variable, though the vast majority will be less than five minutes (Potegal et al., 2003). Toddlers will commonly average more than one tantrum per day. These meltdowns most commonly occur around meals or bed time, but can be triggered by virtually anything.

Although tantrums are considered a normal part of development, parents may be able to develop techniques to recognise an oncoming event and initiate a strategy to prevent or minimize a full scale event. Hunger, tiredness and frustration with tasks are all common triggers for tantrums, which can be dealt with if parents identify the signs early on. Giving the child a snack, suggesting a short nap or lie down, or simply re-directing from a frustrating activity, may all be enough to avoid an oncoming meltdown.

In rare situations, temper tantrums may be a symptom of a true medical disorder. Families should consider consulting their GP or paediatrician if their toddler’s tantrums are occurring more than five times per day or frequently last longer than 15 minutes (Daniels et al., 2012). Although tantrums are a developmental stage children should grow out of, medication may be considered in extreme cases, particularly if there is concern about harm to family members, other children or the child having the tantrum themselves.     

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 22 February 2016
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

1 comments

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MEET THE EXPERTS

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