Tantrums.  To parents of a toddler, this is a four-letter word.

We dread them.  Anticipating their arrival from our babies' earliest days, we often do anything we can to avoid them or stop them from escalating, hoping that our child will regain control and spare us the embarrassment or the frustration that accompanies them.  Every child has them, but why?  Let's look at it from the perspective of your child's developing brain.

When you baby is born the only part of the brain that is fully developed is the brain stem, which controls involuntary actions such as breathing and blinking.  The part of the brain that regulates self-control, the neo-cortex, isn't fully developed until the age of 25.  When your child experiences stress (which for a toddler can be something as seemingly insignificant as stopping one activity to move onto the next) they downshift to the primitive part of the brain.  What follows might not be so pretty.  When we look at tantrums from this perspective we can understand why we can not always expect our toddlers to be reasonable and exhibit self-control during frustrating times.  What we can do is expect this behavior, know that it is normal and then try to stay calm and operating out of our neo-cortex!  Try telling yourself this simple mantra, "I believe I can handle this behavior, and I believe you can handle this disappointment!”  Learn more about your child’s development and strategies to help you get through the day while wiring your child’s neo-cortex for success! 

-Barbara Nelson & Rebecca Walsh