There Are Actually 2 Types of Tantrums—Which One Is Your Kid More Prone To?

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You’re whipping up a batch of cookies and your kid is desperate to lick the bowl. You tell them not to touch anything and wait until you’re finished and what does your kid do? Looks you straight in the eye and sticks their finger right in the batter. Or what about yesterday when you told your child to stop jumping on the couch and they just laughed at you and kept going?

If any of that behavior sounds familiar, you're not alone. Fortunately, Instagram's favorite child psychologist Dr. Becky Kennedy has some advice... and she should know since she has one of these kids herself!

First of all, rest assured that you do not have a sociopath, the expert explains in a video recently posted to her account.

“We often think of a tantrum as a kid doing this, they kind of fall to the ground and they're crying, and they're helpless,” Dr. Becky says. “That's only one form of a tantrum. Another form of a tantrum is actually an escalation in behavior.” Yep, cue the laughing and doing exactly what you told them not to do.

So why do kids do this? “They actually feel out of control. They are having a hard time, not giving you a hard time.”

And the thing these kids need most in that moment from you, is the reassurance that they're fundamentally good (“they're not defiant, they’re not oppositional, they’re struggling”). Secondly, they need you to “lead with pure boundaries.” That doesn't mean being mean or scary, cautions Dr. Becky, but being sturdy. “They need to know that we are less afraid of them in that moment than they are of themselves.” So let's say you tell your kid to not throw a toy and they do it anyway. What not to do in that moment is to yell at or lecture your child, but instead be a strong leader by telling them that it’s not OK to throw toys and then take the plaything away.

Then once the tantrum is over, you can help them build the skills they need to change their behavior. As for how to help them build those skills... well, we’re still waiting to hear back from Dr. Becky on that one.

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...