What’s going on for baby?

During this stage, temper tantrums will be common. With limited ability to say how they’re feeling, toddlers will instead show their feelings with their behaviour.

Toddler tantrums are signs of their stress and frustration, but may also mean they’re not feeling heard. So throwing a ‘wobbly’ will be how they get some attention.

They’re learning a lot at this age, and will want to copy what they see others do — often without the necessary skills or knowledge to do so.

They’re also just at the beginning of developing early empathy, as they begin to understand that other people have needs and feelings too.

How can parents and whānau help?

  • Try to keep calm during the tantrum. Remembering to breathe slowly and evenly can help.
  • Name their child’s feelings. This helps the child learn to say how they feel, rather than acting out.
  • Show they understand how their toddler feels by offering a cuddle or empathising without ‘giving in’ to a tantrum. Help the toddler to learn tantrums don’t get them what they want.
  • Reconnect with their child after a stressful episode to help build their child’s emotional resilience. Talk with them about what happened and what to do next time they feel that way. Remember that toddlers understand much more than they can say.
  • Avoid activities like shopping when their child is tired, hungry or sick.
  • Allow enough time — toddlers don’t like to be rushed.
  • Have a balance of active and quiet times during the day.
  • Provide ‘messy’ play with water, sand and playdough that can help soothe a toddler’s stress.
  • Talk about feelings — their toddler’s and other people’s — and share books that deal with a range of feelings.
  • Encourage and praise kindness, and be specific. ‘That little boy feels happy because you let him play with your truck.’

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