My 18-month-old has started throw­ing the worst tantrums. Ev­ery time she doesn’t get what she wants she throws her­self down on the floor and screams bloody mur­der. What’s go­ing on; I thought tantrums only started at two?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Questions & Answer 2016 -

Cara Blackie (ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist) re­sponds:

Of­ten tem­per tantrums can start be­fore the “ter­ri­ble twos” and as a re­sult what you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing with your daugh­ter is fairly nor­mal. The dif­fi­culty with chil­dren around this age is that they be­come very frus­trated by what they can and can­not do. At 18 months tod­dlers want to ex­plore and do many things, but they are un­able to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively in terms of ex­press­ing their feel­ings and what may be up­set­ting or an­noy­ing them. So tod­dlers, even young ones, of­ten throw a tantrum to try to ex­press the frus­tra­tion they are feel­ing in­side.

Tantrums can be used as a ma­nip­u­la­tive tool or they could be a way for a tod­dler to show that they need love and at­ten­tion. It sounds like your daugh­ter is us­ing th­ese tantrums as a way to pos­si­bly ma­nip­u­late you into giv­ing her some­thing that she wants.

Chil­dren will try very hard to push their par­ents’ but­tons and once they feel they can change their par­ents’ minds, they will con­tinue to use tantrums to get what they want. It can be very dif­fi­cult for you to stay calm when your daugh­ter is kick­ing and scream­ing but try just to let your daugh­ter blow off some steam. It can of­ten help to hold your daugh­ter firmly and talk to her softly about how she may be feel­ing.

Many think that it helps to walk away from your child when she’s throw­ing a tantrum, but this is re­ally un­help­ful. This will only frus­trate your daugh­ter more as she is once again un­able to com­mu­ni­cate to you what she is feel­ing.

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