5 common tantrum triggers for toddlers

If there's one toddler behavior that exists in every single child -- regardless of ability, personality, parenting, or home environment -- it's tantrums. Tantrums are so widely associated with toddlerhood that experts view fits as an inevitable developmental milestones.

Tantrums may be universal, but that doesn't mean that all of them are unpreventable. We can become so accustomed to our routines and to our toddlers' behavior that we sometimes forget that there are ways to prevent them. Often, you can avoid encountering inconsolable tantrums by evading the triggers that cause them. Here are five of the most common tantrum triggers for toddlers.

1. Fatigue

The vast majority of toddlers don't have the verbal or emotional capacity to identify and express their fatigue. An exhausted toddler doesn't know that he needs sleep -- only that he doesn't feel well. When that "I don't feel well" gets bad enough, it manifests as an all-out tantrum.

2. Nutrition

Toddlers often have tantrums because they are hungry. Like fatigue, hunger is something that many toddlers have trouble accurately identifying or responding to. A hungry toddler can quickly become irritable, exhausted, and angry. Other nutrition-related factors, like blood sugar fluctuations and inadequate iron intake, can also influence a toddler's behavior.

3. I Want It!

Often, a toddler will have a tantrum simply because she wants something that she can't have. While other types of tantrums are best prevented by addressing a need, this type is best ignored after a simple, calm explanation of why your toddler can't get her way.

4. Pain

Toddlers often cry in response to pain or illness, and we as parents can't always tell when that's the culprit in a tot's seemingly bad behavior. Common disturbances like ear aches, stomach aches, headaches and teething pain can make toddlers intensely irritable, and, if your child isn't linguistically or emotionally ready enough to tell you, you may have no idea.

5. Emotional Challenges

Toddlers can be very sensitive to the emotional climate around them, and, if they have witnessed arguing, crying, or major lifestyle changes in their family members, they'll cope in the only way they know how -- by panicking and acting out. If your child has been through stress lately, be sure to offer emotional support and comfort while she develops more mature coping skills.

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