Tantrums happen when a child is feeling overwhelmed by an intense emotion that they aren’t able to process. Letting it all out by having a tantrum is the way they feel able to express how they feel.
What is normal?
Is it normal for a child to have a tantrum? Yes! Tantrums are a normal and expected part of a child’s development. They start happening from around 18 months, and they’re actually quite useful in terms of child development, as we’ll explain later on.
Why do children have them?
Tantrums happen when a child is feeling overwhelmed by an intense emotion that they aren’t able to process.
Whilst a tantrum can be sparked by many different reasons, the underlying issue is that a child is expressing an emotion which is ‘too big’, unknown, unmanageable, and overwhelming. It could be frustration, a desire to be more independent, a scary new experience, jealousy, or anger etc.
Letting it all out by having a tantrum is the way they feel able to express how they feel.
Some children might also have a tantrum as a way to be ‘seen’, and to get the attention they crave.
It’s important to remember that, no matter how trivial the reason for the tantrum may seem to you, it is a real and important feeling to them.
As they get older, children do need to learn other ways that they can express their feelings in a safe way, and they need to learn to manage intense emotions. Children do gradually learn these things as time goes by, but the only way to really work this out, is for them to actually start having the tantrums to begin with.
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