When my daughter was a newborn, I would see toddlers having tantrums and I would think to myself, “My sweet angel would never do that.” Unfortunately, I was wrong. Like almost every other toddler, mine is prone to angry outbursts and inconsolable fits. Although I have yet to find a catch-all solution to temper tantrums, I’ve found that knowing the cause is half the battle. There are several reasons that toddlers have tantrums. Here are a few of the most common causes.
1. She’s bored. I believe that boredom is the most common cause of tantrums in toddlers two to three years old. A toddler requires near-constant mental stimulation because their brains are adapted to learn constantly. Provide your child with plenty of toys, books, new environments, art supplies and activities to keep him stimulated. A well-entertained toddler is far less likely to burst into a raging fit.
2. He’s tired. Exhaustion is a common problem contributing to tantrums in toddlers. My own toddler refuses to nap in the afternoon, so she begins throwing tantrums by dinner time because her sleep deprivation catches up to her. Do your best to ensure that your child has an adequate amount of sleep. If yours absolutely refuses to take an afternoon nap, make sure that he gets a daily period of “quiet time” in which he can read books or relax on the couch.
3. She’s hungry. Remember the last time you skipped lunch? By mid-afternoon, you were probably shaky, irritable and unfocused. A toddler isn’t as capable of controlling his emotions when irritability strikes, so a tantrum is the most likely outcome. If your toddler is a picky eater and frequently refuses to eat meals you prepare, this could be contributing to her tantrums.
4. He’s frustrated. Toddlers have little control over their environments. They do not get to choose– or even understand– how they spend their time and where they go. Your toddler may have a raging tantrum because he wants to go to the playground instead of the bank, or because he wants to eat chocolate for dinner instead of bean soup. Without “giving in” to a tantrum, try to allow your child as much choice as possible. This might mean letting him choose the color of his sippy cup or choosing between potatoes or carrots at dinner time.
5. She’s sick. If your toddler suddenly begins displaying severe tantrums, consider the possibility that she may be sick or in pain. Fevers, stomach problems, ear infections, sore throats and sinus infections can all cause significant discomfort, and your toddler may not be able to articulate her distress. If you notice a sudden change in your toddler’s behavior that persists for more than a few days, consult her pediatrician to rule out an underlying illness.
Related Content from Juniper Russo:
Taming Toddler Tantrums- the Attachment Parenting Method
How to Handle a Lying Toddler
Aromatherapy for Babies and Toddlers