My 18-month-old is throwing the worst tantrums, what's going on?
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?

Educational psychologist, Cara Blackie, answers:

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 bea way for a toddler to show that they need love and attention.It sounds like your daughter is using these tantrums as a wayto possibly manipulate you into giving her something that shewants. Children will try very hard to push their parents’ buttonsand once they feel they can change their parents’ minds, theywill continue to use tantrums to get what they want. It canbe very diffi cult for you to stay calm when your daughter iskicking and screaming but try to just let your daughter blow offsome steam. It can often help to hold your daughter fi rmly andtalk to her softly about how she may be feeling.

Many think that it helps to walk away from your child when she is throwing a tantrum, but this is actually really unhelpful. This will only frustrate your daughter more as she is once again unable to communicate to you what she is feeling. Take a closer look at what is frustrating your daughter in connection to what she wants. This will help you deal with the tantrum as well as know how to prevent them in the future. Place set rules and boundaries, which your daughter understands and knows that she cannot manipulate, so that you reduce her need to throw a tantrum. Once your daughter learns to express herself in the verbal domain she will feel more understood and contained. Teaching your child emotional literacy from an early age can also help her feel more understood in connection to her emotional world. This can be done by talking to her about feelings and naming the emotions for your daughter.

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