Is it normal for toddlers to throw tantrums? Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett says, absolutely yes. Between the ages of 18 months and 3 years is the most common time these develop and of course there will be varying degrees to how often and how challenging they will be. She says that there are different sort of tantrums so it’s important to understand where the tantrum is coming from. In general, type 1 tantrum is caused by either frustration, tiredness, feeling hungry or overstimulated. She recommends providing support and trying to teach ways of coping with the situation.
Type 2 tantrum is a demanding tantrum that is often used by the child as a form of control over the parent or carer. You must be careful to not provide reinforcement of this behaviour by giving into the demands or wants of the toddler as they will continue to use this as a way of getting you to do what they want. Wait until they have calmed down before engaging with them again.
Sheryl Sidery reminds us that using positive reinforcement is so much more effective than any kind of negative punishment in helping to mould good behaviour. So we need to go out of our way to make sure that we recognise our children’s good behaviour as much as possible.
Cathrine suggests using the ‘pre-empt and prevent’ strategy when dealing with your toddlers. Provide them with some warning about what is going to happen so they can be prepared, pre-empt their behaviour and be ready to distract them before they get upset and prevent a tantrum. Try not to make the common mistake of threatening to do something that you can’t, or don’t, follow through on. There is no point saying, “I’m going to take you off this airplane if you don’t sit down right now” when you clearly have no intention of doing that at all.