It’s often difficult to know what will set off your child or when tantrums are coming. What is clear, however, is that a tantrum usually isn’t far behind. If you’re trying to understand your child’s behavior and how it might lead to an outburst, here are some of the most common things we’ve seen happen before a meltdown.
Signs that Tantrums Are Coming:
1. Child is overstimulated
One of the most common causes of a tantrum is when a child is overstimulated, usually by being in a new environment and having too many things to see, touch or smell. A museum or theme park is particularly dangerous because there are so many new things to see. Most children can tolerate only so much stimulation before their bodies start shutting down. The child may become fussy, might start crying, or might even begin actively trying to get away from the inspiration.
2. Child is tired
Just as a child who is overstimulated needs to be calmed down, an overtired child may need to come down a bit before she can relax. The same thing can happen after a big day out. All that is running around, new sounds, and new people all day can be exhausting for a little one. When you feel like your child is too tired, it could be a sign that tantrums are coming.
3. Changes in routine or environment
Changes in anything from the routine at home to the time of day when you leave for the store or other appointments can lead to a tantrum. The feeling of uncertainty about what will happen when tantrums are coming or when it is going to happen can make a child feel anxious and upset. Being in an unfamiliar environment can also be stressful for a child.
4. Too many choices
A child who is used to making decisions about what she wants for lunch, what she wants to wear, or how she wants her hair styled may suddenly find herself bombarded with options when she has too many choices. It can be challenging for a child who has trouble making decisions, especially when she is suddenly asked to make any big decisions.
5. Child has to wait for something she wants
Another sign that tantrums are coming is when a child has to wait too long for something that she wants or needs, like food, her favorite toy, or her turn on the swing set. Someone will also get upset when a child who is used to getting what she wants suddenly finds that she can’t have it all.
6. Child has lost something or someone
If a child is unhappy about something past, present, or yet to come, it can lead to tantrum behavior. For example, if a child loses his favorite toy or his favorite book at the library, he might experience intense feelings and should tell you that tantrums are coming. It can also be the case if a child is upset about someone leaving. Another type of loss that might spur a tantrum is when a child cannot go to a friend’s house or doesn’t get to have dessert when she would like because she has overeaten food at dinner.
7. Child is jealous of another child
Many children experience jealousy when they see other children at play with their favorite toys or special snacks while not allowed to have them. It can lead to a tantrum if the child cannot play with the object of her jealousy.
8. Child wants attention
Sometimes tantrums are coming because your child wants to get his parents’ attention. In other cases, a child might have a tantrum because the child is afraid that something terrible will happen if they don’t get their parent’s attention. Or, a child might throw a tantrum because they want to show their parents how strongly they feel about something.
9. Child is bored or needs an activity
A child who is upset because they are bored may have an outburst if you try to distract them from whatever is upsetting them. It can be very frustrating for parents, but it’s important to remember that a tantrum doesn’t necessarily stop when you give in and do what the child wants. If you give in too often, the tantrums will only get worse. A parent can help a child feel better by finding constructive ways to keep her occupied.
10. Child is hungry or thirsty
While tantrums are coming when a child is hungry or thirsty, it usually doesn’t happen. A child may throw a tantrum because they are still hungry after dinner, but the temper will resolve within 10 to 20 minutes and will not last for longer than 15 minutes.
11. Child is sick
Like an adult, a sick child may feel weak or flushed and have a high fever or diarrhea. They also might be uncomfortable in their body and want to get up and move around. A child who has a tantrum because he or she feels ill will often continue to throw a tantrum until the parent can figure out what’s wrong. For example, diarrhea is often the reason for a child’s tantrum.
12. Child does not feel safe
Tantrums can happen when a child feels unsafe or is scared. A child who feels unsafe may have a tantrum if he or she thinks someone might harm him. Or, a child who other children tease may throw a tantrum to get the children to stop teasing her.
There are other reasons why tantrums are coming. It can be caused by many different situations and factors, including the child’s temperament, stress at home or school, or the reaction of others to the child. A tantrum that happens because a parent does not allow his child to do something he wants is not a good reason for the tantrum.
How do you handle your kid’s signs of tantrums? Please let us know in the comments below how you can tell that tantrums are coming!