Parents are often horrified when their sweet toddlers turn into unrecognizable monsters, kicking, screaming and writhing on the floor because they can’t get what they want. Although it may seem that time is standing still when your child is having a tantrum, these fits of temper are a normal part of a young child’s development and he or she will eventually grow out of them.
Children typically start having tantrums between the ages of 1 and 2, and this challenging behavior peaks between the ages of 2 or 3. Around this age, children start to want to do things by themselves, but they don’t yet have the ability. For example, they might want to play with a toy that is too advanced for their age.
“Your child’s understanding of what is going on is good, but she doesn’t yet have the words to express what she would like to get or wants to do,” Nina Rezai, M.D., a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says. “This leads to frustration and tantrums.”
By age 4, most children are able to use their words and communicate what they want. When that happens, the tantrums taper off.