Toddler tantrums timeline

Toddler tantrums timeline

Stage one

Lucy and daughter Beth, two, are at the newsagent looking for a birthday card, when Beth spots some sweets.

Mum thinks: "Oh no – why do they put sweets where she can see them?"

Beth thinks: "I can see sweets. I want some of those"

Stage two

Beth asks her mum for sweets and when Lucy says no the temperature rises fast. As she feels more under pressure, Lucy takes a tougher line.

Beth: "Want sweets. Want S-W-E-E-T-S!"

Mum: "No you can't have any. We've got to get a birthday card for Nana."

Beth: "BETH WANT SWEETS."

Mum: "STOP IT THIS MINUTE! EVERYONE'S LOOKING AT YOU. WE'VE GOT TO GET NANA'S CARD."

Stage three

Beth works herself up into a full blown tantrum – to the horror of other customers. Although she's embarrassed, Lucy knows it's best to stay calm and close by and wait for it to pass.

Beth: "BETH WANT SWEETS!"

Stage four

After what seems like an age, Beth starts to calm down. To distract her, a relieved Lucy suggests that Beth choose the card.

Mum: "When you're calmed down, I'd really like you to help me find a card for Nana."

Mum: "I can see you were really upset about those sweets. Come on now, let's get a card for Nana."

Mum: "I'll tell you what, let's see who can find the nicest card for Nana."

Stage five

Beth picks out a card and toddles over to Lucy, tantrum forgotten . . .

Things to think about:

  • How well do you think Lucy handled the tantrum?
  • Could she have done anything differently?
  • How might the tantrum have been avoided?
Last updated: 22 August 2013