Why Do Toddler Temper Tantrums Happen

Understanding the causes of toddler temper tantrums is more important than you might think.
No parent can stop their toddler having emotional outbursts, but knowing why they happen can help you to keep an even temper when your child has lost theirs! 

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There are numerous causes of tantrums in toddlers: attention-seeking and jealousy, frustration, over-stimulation and tiredness - the list goes on.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by such a long list. I have divided them into 2 types of tantrums:

  • Frustration tantrums
  • 'Want My Own Way' tantrums

Toddler Temper Tantrums
#1 Frustration Tantrums

Because this age is a time of such intense development (walking and talking for starters), your youngster will have an overload of ambition.

This desire for independence usually outstrips ability - by a mile. For example:

  • Wanting to do a jigsaw but not being able to fit all the pieces in
  • Trying to say "I want the green toy from the shelf" but not knowing how

When these great toddler plans go wrong a tantrum results - it's pure and simple venting of toddler frustration at himself. It is not directed at anyone else.

The "Want My Own Way Tantrum"

This is shock and dismay that the toddler can’t have everything he wants:

  • Having to sit still for a haircut – this is outrageous - I can't keep still!
  • Mummy is holding the baby again – what about ME?
  • Wanting to climb all over the sofa with gran sitting on it – why can’t I just run around when I feel like it?

This type of emotional meltdown is both letting off steam AND an attempt to regain control of the situation by protesting as loudly as possible.

While it is easy to understand the Frustration tantrum, the Want My Own Way tantrum can seem at first glance merely selfish and not deserving of our sympathy.

This is wrong - all children of this age naturally assume the world revolves around them.

Understanding the causes of toddler temper tantrums does not mean you should give in to tantrum manipulation.

However, knowing what to expect will help you keep calm. It is your job to show your child how to control her feelings - a skill that takes time to master.

What Now?

Want to deal more effectively with toddler outbursts? Go to the Tantrum Prevention Kit to nip them in the bud before they even start.

Alternatively, you can skip ahead to dealing with tantrums - both pages have advice on coping with either Frustration or Want My Own Way outbursts. 

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