What causes your child's tantrums

  • PublishedJune 17, 2019

Parents with toddlers are all too familiar with the tantrums, and they know them just as they dread them. Your child gets upset every once is a while and cries, and that is inevitable. However, tantrums are more intense emotional outbursts. They are marked with screaming, thrashing on the floor and stamping of feet. A really bad tantrum can escalate into throwing things around and the toddler might harm themselves in the process. Tantrums are a normal part of a child’s growth and they often wane at the age of four. Knowing what causes your child’s tantrums puts you in a better position to foresee, prevent and survive them.

Language barrier

Your child knows what they want, but they do not know how to say it. At the age of two for instance,  their vocabulary is limited to around 50 words, and they may not know how to voice their needs. The frustration of being unable to communicate could just be what causes your child’s tantrums.


A hungry man is an angry man, and a hungry toddler is a screaming, cranky toddler. Hunger is one of the top causes of tantrums.

ALSO READ: Are you your child’s first bully?

Fatigue, sleepiness

Not having enough sleep puts the best of us in a blue mood. Tantrum and fatigue are closely related.

Testing boundaries

When they were infants, they were fully dependent on you to choose their food, their clothes and pretty much everything. As toddlers, the knowledge of self and a sense of autonomy is starting to creep in. This may play out in the form of tantrums if they do not have their way.

Mode of operation

If previously they kicked up a fit and you gave them what they wanted, they might adopt tantrums as their modus operandi the next time they need something.

Seeking attention

A child who throws a tantrum sometimes just wants your attention.


Updated in May 2021.

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