Aggressive tantrums going into the third year

Parenting Styles   |   Age: 2 years 3 months

Aggressive tantrums going into the third year

Since the frontal lobe of her brain still forming, your toddler’s ability to reason, use logic and practice self-control is still pretty small. As a result, there may be several times in a day when she throws a tantrum and completely melts down. There might be times where these tantrums become aggressive and downright scary. As she grows, you may notice a shift in types of tantrums, what causes them, where and when they are likely to happen, what you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place, and how to keep from escalating them when they do.

What makes a tantrum “aggressive”?

In a Journal of Pediatrics study, experts divided tantrum behaviors into a few different kinds, including:

If any of these types of tantrums become frequent (happening more than five times a day or lasting longer than 20 minutes) and don’t tend to happen based on obvious triggers, it may be time to seek medical attention, since they could be a larger concern.

Why do aggressive tantrums happen?

The first and most common reason for tantrums in toddlers is tiredness. your baby is more mobile than ever, and probably spending plenty of time outside and with other children. This can take a toll on energy levels and leave your little one feeling drained and exhausted. Exhaustion can then easily lead to tantrums. Frustration is another cause of tantrums - toddlers around this age spend a lot of time trying to accomplish new skills and tasks, and often it takes a few - or more than a few - tries before they get it. After several attempts at making something happen a certain way and with no progress, you might watch your baby spiral into a tantrum rooted in feeling completely frustrated that things aren’t going her way. Offering to help often won’t help to prevent these tantrums, either - your baby wants to be able to do whatever it is herself.

Lastly, simply put, toddlers have moods that shift in throughout the day. Sometimes, your baby is in a great mood and the world is wonderful. Sometimes the fun snack she always loves is suddenly the most disgusting piece of food you’ve ever put in front of her, and how dare you do such a thing!

By knowing times and places that these tantrums happen, you can sometimes predict her behavior, and start to notice patterns in her actions. Common times for meltdowns are when exhaustion, frustration, and mood are on the rise. Typically that can happen at times like naptime, bedtime, at the end of a play-date or in the car.

Responding to aggressive tantrums

Luckily, you and your family are not the first ones to deal with tantrums and there are well-known techniques for both avoiding tantrums and helping diffuse them when they are happening.

Before a tantrum is even on the radar, there are ways to avoid them.

During a tantrum, it can seem like a minute is more like an hour. During tantrums, it’s important to remember that your toddler has little control over what she’s doing - it’s nothing personal, no matter how it can feel in the moment. Don’t try to reason with a toddler who is melting down, because you won’t ever understand what is going on in her head sometimes.

Still, there are some techniques some families find helpful in getting past tantrums.

Overall, when faced with a tantrum, the big things to keep in mind are to remain calm and not to give in. You have the opportunity to model positive behavior, teach empathy by example and give your toddler an outlet for when she needs one.


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