Parents, you have made it through the newborn stage – from crawling to teething to taking their first steps, but now you have yet another set of challenge to handle as your child grows into a toddler. They call it the terrible twos or threes. Many parents have strong opinions on which is more accurate. Whenever it happens though, your child will definitely give you a run for your money!
For us, it hits right around 3 years old when my sweet little girl turns into someone with big emotions.
I would offer her a hard-boiled egg, and cut it into half, but suddenly she has giant tears rolling down her cheeks and falls onto the floor crying. I frantically scanned our surroundings to figure out what flipped the switch in her, but it turns out that she didn’t like that I had cut her egg into half.
This sounds terrible, but don’t worry parents! This is merely a stage. Just remember that this too shall pass and look at the brighter side of things. Stay calm, and take a deep breath when something like this happens to you.
However, why do toddlers have tantrums? There could be various reasons. Here are 8 possible factors that can impact your toddler’s behavior.
1. Lack of sleep
This is often the number one factor that can explain the meltdown. Today, my toddler had a sudden outburst when we were out on a walk. She was happily looking at our neighbor’s fishpond, but a minute later, she started crying so loudly and I swear the entire neighborhood could hear her. All this happened just because she missed her nap time and she was really tired.
For adults, we can power through the day even if we don’t get enough sleep. However, for a toddler, lack of sleep is a big deal as they need more sleep than us. That is why is it important to establish a routine. Skipping nap times for other activities or staying up late during weekends can impact a child’s ability to make good decisions and handle less than ideal situations in their daily lives.
2. Blood sugar imbalance
Food plays a really important part in your toddler’s behavior. If a child is hungry, her blood sugar drops dramatically. Same thing happens when your toddler has only eaten too many sweets. It is just another way that their body is telling us that they need real food. Usually when this happens, they will calm down once food is introduced.
To avoid toddler tantrum due to blood sugar imbalance in the future, just make sure to feed your toddler healthy balanced meals with a combination of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates.
If a child is overstimulated, this can cause a meltdown. Some examples of this include bright lights or loud noises at birthday parties or carnivals. The only way to stop the tantrum is to walk away from these sources and let the child calm down.
4. Lack of stimulation
While over stimulation can be a problem, a lack of stimulation can also be an issue. If a toddler is not getting enough activities to do, they get bored easily and this can lead to tantrums too.
5. Big emotions
Most of the time, parents need to be reminded that our toddler is learning how to be independent as they are growing physically and emotionally, but they do not have the capacity to express what they are feeling at the moment. In order to let it out, the only thing they can do is to throw a tantrum.
This is perfectly normal. However, we as parents, should guide our toddler through this phase by teaching them how to feel and express their emotions. Strategies like time-out to punish them for their tantrums would often backfire because we are teaching them to suppress their emotions. We need to assure them that you are there for them, help them understand their feelings and tell them it is safe to tell you how they feel without shame or punishment.
We need to remember that our toddler is still growing, so there are some things that they want to do on their own but they are simply not capable of doing so physically. This leads to frustration, which results in toddler tantrums.
Kids don’t know that they are sick when they are because they don’t have the life experience to accurately identify illnesses. As adults, we need to learn how to spot and identify some signs that our child is sick. One of their ways of telling us that they are not feeling well is through throwing a tantrum.
8. Problems at school
School is full of difficulties. Sometimes they can be struggling with reading, writing or counting. If your child is having a problem with any of these, it might make sense to see a specialist to get a disorder diagnosed.
Often times, friends from school can also be an issue. Unfortunately, social pressure can start as early as 3 or 4 years old. The reason could be as simple as being left out on the playground at school, or your child is carrying an outdated school bag. When my daughter first attended daycare, she was having problems with making friends. Fortunately, she was able to articulate this issue to me in simple terms, and I was able to piece together the problem. With her teacher’s help, she quickly integrated herself into daycare life and her tantrums at home went away.
How to solve toddler tantrums
Thankfully, toddler tantrums is just a phase and most issues are easy to handle. While it may seem overwhelming when your toddler has a meltdown, as long as we find ways to deal with it effectively and healthily, your child should calm down.
If your child is throwing a tantrum to get their way, we should not give in. In this case, it might be best to distract them. When their attention shifts to another topic or activities, they should calm down in time. Alternatively, a change in environment sometimes can do the trick. Check out my other post here on ways on how to calm your toddler.
Always remember, this too shall pass! Children outgrow their tantrums as they learn how to deal with their emotions and have a stronger grasp on their communication skills.