There is a golden rule when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, and that is that there are bound to be tantrums. Young children and tantrums are a packaged deal, and while they may vary in severity and length, every young child will go through a phase where they have tantrums. Young children are prone to having tantrums and meltdowns, and they can be considered completely normal.
According to Child Mind Institute, toddlers and meltdowns can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to parenting, but it is completely normal because a young child struggles to vocalize what they need or want from a parent. However, what is the difference between a “normal” tantrum and an “extreme” tantrum that seems to happen daily?
An easy benchmark to decide if a tantrum is 'normal' or not is to look at how it plays out. A normal tantrum will result in a child who is still in some control of their actions, and it will normally stop if left ignored. When we are talking about an extreme tantrum, or 'meltdown' a child will not be in control of his emotions and mom will find herself have to let her child 'ride it out' in order to calm down.
Social & Emotional Skills
When a child is having a severe tantrum, they are telling you something. According to Raising Children, severe tantrums may happen because your child’s social and emotional skills are still developing. When they experience big emotions, it is hard for them to manage them, as they do not know how to communicate with you what is wrong. They also could be testing out their 'power' over other people and trying to see if they can influence others behavior.
It is important to remember that severe tantrums do not mean that your child is 'bad' or 'misbehaving.' It can be seen as a cry for help, and there is always a root cause. Pay attention to triggers that are occurring right before tantrums and seeing if there is a noticeable pattern. If mom can not determine any reason for these meltdowns, it may be a good idea to speak to your child’s healthcare provider.
While it may be easy to brush off meltdowns and tantrums, it could be an indicator of some serious mental health issues, according to Science Daily. Researchers have found that long, extreme and frequent tantrums may indicate that there is a psychiatric illness present. Researchers were able to compare tantrums in health children to tantrums in children who were already diagnosed with depression or disruptive disorders, such as ADHD.
The researchers found that healthy children were less likely to be aggressive when they had a tantrum, and their tantrums were a lot shorter compare to peers with a mental health condition. Researchers state that it is important that parents pay attention to what is happening during a tantrum. If their child is becoming destructive and/or showing aggression towards a person or a toy, then a conversation should happen with the medical professionals. When looking for factors to consider on trying to determine what type of tantrum your child is having, extreme tantrums may involve them biting or hitting themselves, and frequency would be more than 5 tantrums a day for several consecutive days.