Tantrums in Children: Causes, Symptoms and What to Do

Tantrums in Children: Causes, Symptoms and What to Do

Tantrums in Children: Causes, Symptoms and What to Do

Tantrums in children are a common and often challenging phenomenon that many parents and caregivers face. These emotional outbursts can arise for a variety of reasons and manifest in a variety of ways, often leaving adults feeling bewildered and frustrated about how to handle the situation effectively. However, understanding underlying causes, recognizing symptoms, and learning coping strategies are critical steps in helping children develop emotional regulation skills and promoting overall well-being. In the following article, we will explain in a simple way the common causes of tantrums in children, the symptoms that indicate the presence of extreme tantrums and what to do to handle these situations effectively.

What are tantrums?


Tantrums, also known as temper tantrums, are intense emotional outbursts experienced by young children, especially between the ages of 2 and 4. They are characterized by behaviors such as crying, screaming, kicking, lying on the ground, and even refusing to breathe.

Why do children have tantrums? Causes

These emotional intelligence in children outbursts or tantrums have several causes, but they could be summarized as children, they do not yet have the ability to self-regulate their emotions, neither the negative nor the positive ones. Other causes of tantrums are:

Lack of control

As we have said, one of the most common causes of tantrums is the lack of emotional control characteristic of early childhood. Young children lack the skills necessary to adequately manage frustration, anger or sadness. Instead of managing these emotions constructively, they resort to intense emotional expression, such as tantrums, to express their discomfort.


Frustration plays a central role in causing tantrums. The inability to obtain what they want or the inability to perform certain tasks on their own creates a feeling of helplessness, which in turn triggers a disproportionate emotional reaction in the form of a tantrum.

Tiredness or hunger

Factors such as tiredness or hunger also contribute significantly to the likelihood of a child experiencing a tantrum. Lack of energy or the feeling of being hungry interferes with the child's poor ability to regulate their emotions.

Lack of attention

Additionally, tantrums may be used by some children as a means to get the attention of their parents or caregivers. When they feel like they are not receiving the attention they want, they resort to disruptive behaviors as a way to demand it.


Situations such as the arrival of a new sibling, moving to a new home or starting daycare can generate stress and anxiety in children by altering their family environment and the routine they already know.

Inability to communicate

Children who have difficulty expressing their needs or desires effectively try to resort to tantrums as a way to communicate their discomfort and frustration, to feel heard.

It's important to note that in some cases, tantrums can be a sign of deeper developmental issues, such as autism spectrum disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In these cases, it is essential to seek appropriate assessment and support from health professionals to address the specific needs of the child.

Symptoms of extreme tantrums in children


Although it is normal for children to experience sporadic emotional outbursts during their development, when these tantrums become more intense, frequent, or disruptive, they may indicate that the child is facing significant difficulties regulating their emotions. Identifying and understanding the symptoms of extreme tantrums is crucial to being able to provide appropriate support. What are the symptoms? We explain them to you:

Prolonged duration of tantrums

While typical tantrums usually last only a few minutes, if your child's tantrums persist for more than 15 minutes, this may be an indication that there is a deeper challenge at play. This prolongation signals additional difficulties for the child in managing his emotions.

Excessive frequency of tantrums

If your child experiences repeated tantrums several times a day, it is an indication that he is facing recurring difficulties in managing his emotions. This elevated frequency suggests the need for intervention and support to help you develop truly effective emotional regulation skills.

Manifestations of self-harm or aggression

If during a tantrum your child hurts himself, pulls his hair, or exhibits aggressive behavior toward others, he is indicating a very deep level of emotional discomfort.

Inconsolable crying during tantrums

This type of tantrums are characterized by very intense crying, screaming and worrying distress.

Interference with daily life: If your child's tantrums begin to significantly affect his or her ability to carry out daily activities, such as attending school or participating in social activities. In such cases, it is crucial to intervene.

Difference between tantrums and temper tantrums

From the age of two, it is common for children to experience both tantrums and temper tantrums as a normal part of their development. However, understanding the distinctions between both phenomena helps adults respond more effectively to children's emotional needs.

  • Tantrums, in contrast to tantrums, are defined by a component of intentionality on the part of the child. The child has learned that through kicking and emotional expression he can get what he wants. There is some planning, although not necessarily conscious, behind tantrums, as the child is using this strategy to achieve a specific goal.
  • On the other hand, tantrums are characterized by a deeper emotional lack of control. In a tantrum, the child may seem completely out of control, and the trigger may be as minimal as eating strawberries cut into quarters instead of in half. Unlike tantrums, where the child can calm down once he has gotten what he wants, in a tantrum, the agitated state can persist even after the initial goal has been achieved.
  • That is, the key distinction between tantrums and tantrums lies in their objective and how the child behaves once he has achieved his objective. While in a tantrum the child seeks to obtain something specific and can calm down once he obtains it, in a tantrum the child usually continues to show signs of emotional discomfort even after having achieved his initial goal.

How to handle a tantrum in the moment?

Handling a tantrum in the moment is stressful and difficult for many, but with focus and patience, any parent and caregiver can calm the situation and support the child in their emotional learning process. We leave you below how to achieve it:

Provides physical comfort

In some cases, physical contact helps calm the child, as it provides containment. A soft hug or caress can convey secure attachment in children  and emotional support, showing him that you are there for him even in times of difficulty.

Offers limited options

Instead of completely giving in to his demands, seek to offer him limited options that are still within the established limits. This gives the child a sense of control and autonomy, while respecting established rules and limits.

Use positive language

Instead of focusing on what the child can't do during a tantrum, focus on the behavior you want to encourage. Use positive, affirming language stimulation in children  to guide the child toward a more constructive emotional response.

Practice empathy

Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they may be feeling at that moment. Empathy helps strengthen the bond between you and him, and can also help him feel understood and validated in his emotions.

Find calm moments to teach skills

After the tantrum has passed and the child is calmer, take advantage of the moment to teach him emotion management strategies. There are many options here, from deep breathing techniques or relaxation exercises to effective communication skills.

If you choose to opt for deep breathing, you can always keep track of the time in which the child breathes deeply or teach him to do it with a  kiddus horloge on his wrist of Kiddus 

Tips to avoid tantrums in children


Of course, the ideal would be to prevent tantrums. This is not possible, at least not entirely. We remind you that tantrums are normal and natural, so avoiding them entirely is unlikely. This does not mean that there is nothing you can do to prevent them. Here we leave you some useful and practical tips for you to implement and prevent, on many occasions, your children's tantrums:

Promotes communication

Establishing open and effective communication with your child will help him express his needs and emotions more clearly and constructively. Encourage the child to communicate with you and express what he feels, that is, to practice identifying his emotions.

Model the desired behavior

Children learn by observing the adults around them. If you demonstrate how to manage emotions in a positive reinforcement and constructive way, your child will be more inclined to follow your example. Be a role model by communicating calmly and expressing your own emotions in a healthy way. Showing yourself vulnerable with your child will not make you seem weak, but will create invaluable closeness.

Provides opportunities for play and exploration

Allowing your child to play and explore in a safe and stimulating environment will help them release excess energy and reduce pent-up frustration. Play is also a natural way for children to learn to manage their emotions and develop important social skills.

Set clear and consistent boundaries

Children need clear boundaries to feel safe and understood. Establish consistent rules and consequences for unacceptable behavior and make sure you apply them fairly and equitably.

Practice self-care

As a parent or caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself so you can properly care for your child. Prioritize your own emotional and physical well-being, and seek support when you need it. A calm and balanced parent or caregiver is better equipped to handle difficult situations and prevent tantrums.

Seek support when necessary

If you find it difficult to manage your child's tantrums effectively, don't hesitate to seek additional support. This support may include talking to other parents, seeking guidance from a mental health professional, or participating in parenting steam education programs. Not being able to handle your child's tantrums does not make you a bad parent, always keep that in mind.


In conclusion, tantrums are a normal part of childhood development, but they still represent a significant challenge for parents and caregivers. Understanding its nature, informing yourself, taking care of yourself and learning to set limits is more than necessary. Although as parents we have a hard time during a tantrum, our children have it worse. It is our responsibility to teach him the necessary tools so that this does not escalate and deep emotional problems develop in the long term.

Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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