A toddler throwing a theatrical tantrum in the grocery store can make any parent feel like shrieking in frustration, but tantrums are part of the development process as children learn to manage hard feelings. Tantrums may be normal, particularly during the preschool years, but that doesn’t mean we, as parents, must accept them as a way of life. Read on for age-by-age strategies to help diffuse anger, calm chaos and turn tantrums around.
A toddler or preschooler who throws tantrums is probably perfectly normal: 75 percent of kids experience tantrums between ages 3 and 5, and the mean age for tantrum behavior is 4.5, according to research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Tantrums that regularly disrupt school or home life — or those in which a child becomes violent or destructive — however, are signs your child may be struggling with overwhelming emotions or dealing with a challenging transition, says licensed counselor Leslie Petruk, a play therapist at The Stone Center for Counseling and Leadership in Charlotte.
Other signs include regressive behavior like a sudden return to bedwetting, thumbsucking or baby talk, an increase in sibling fighting, and aggressive or defiant behavior.
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