8 tot-tantrum triggers (and why)

Your little one is not deliberately trying to drive you insane — we interpret 8 behaviours for you…

Tots-8-tot-tantrum-triggers-(and-why)

1) She throws her cup at you. Or puts her favourite doll in the dustbin.

Where she’s at

“Admit it, Mum, it is hilarious to watch my mug of milk go flying through the air. And your expression after is even better.”

Where you need to be

Toddlers don’t understand consequences and only operate in the now. “When your tot flings her toy out of the car window, she does it because she doesn’t want it right at that moment,” explains psychologist Dr Sandra Wheatley. “That doesn’t mean she won’t cry for it later.” It’s frustrating, but be patient and teach her about consequences. Explain that, if she throws teddy on the filthy bus floor, Ted will be put in Mummy’s handbag because he’s dirty and she cannot play with him any more.  

2) He’s quietly doing something and screams when you carry him off to take a bath to get ready to go out.

Where he’s at

“Finally, a few moments with my fave toy and now you’re trying to force my limbs into clothing. Back off!”

Where you need to be

With no sense of time, but an endless capacity to be distracted, it takes immense effort to get out of the house. “Toddlers are curious, which means anything is fascinating,” child psychologist Sarah Steel says. “Explain that playgroup starts soon and you don’t want him to miss painting.”

“If it doesn’t involve too much waste — of your money or time — sometimes it’s okay to follow her request.”

3) She throws a tantrum at breakfast because you cut her toast into triangles yesterday and she WANTS TRIANGLES NOW.

Where she’s at

“Yesterday, you won me over with those kite-shaped pieces but now we’re back to unimaginative rectangles — as if it never happened.”

Where you need to be

Kids work visually, so explaining that her food tastes the same whether in triangles or squares is a waste of time. “Pick your battles,” says Dr Wheatley. “If it doesn’t involve too much waste — of your money or time — sometimes it’s okay to follow her request.”

4) He played well with the other kid — and then suddenly threw a massive hissy fit. What happened?

Where he’s at

“First, she’s welcomed into my home and fed my special snacks, now she’s got my best toys. Enough already.”

Where you need to be

Children are territorial, particularly between the ages of 2 and 3 when they’re learning about ownership. “Make it clear that the toys belong to your child and he just needs to share them temporarily,” Dr Wheatley says. Pre-select some he might like to show off to his playmates (and consider putting treasured ones away).