What Your Toddler is Thinking Before a Tantrum

Frustrated toddler with wrinkled face closeup
Photo Niklas Hellerstedt|CC

Toddlers do act crazy during tantrums, but they think YOU’RE the crazy one.

While your two year old’s communication skills are developing, they can’t tell you how they feel, ask for help, or express frustration and anger appropriately.

Before he temper tantrums, your toddler is thinking……

  • What are you talking about? Toddlers have no idea what you are saying or asking of them. If you say “Let’s go to the park after you put your shoes and socks on”, your toddler only hears “park”, and has no idea you are requesting “shoes.”
  • Why can’t you understand me? Toddlers have no idea how to tell you what they want and need. When they try to ask for juice, they are completely baffled when you hand them water.
  • I need help!!! Toddlers can’t solve problems by themselves, and get frustrated when trying. They want to ‘do it myself’, yet need assistance without knowing how to ask.
  • I feel bad. Toddlers get sick, hungry, and tired. They have no clue how to tell you they feel bad.
  • I’m nervous and scared. Toddlers get anxious, uncomfortable, and stressed about changes at home.
  • Look at me NOW. Toddlers crave attention and get jealous of your other responsibilities including new siblings.
  • I can’t do it. Toddlers are not able to do as much as they think they can. Learning new skills like walking, running, climbing, or drawing is frustrating.

Both expressive language (the ability to communicate wants and needs) and receptive language (the ability to understand) are rapidly developing in your two-year-old. But without these communication skills, it’s difficult for young children to hold those big feelings inside.

It is important to realize that temper tantrums are a normal part of childhood. While tantrums are not always easy to deal with, a loving and understanding approach will help you and your child get through them.

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