A tantrum is a super-charged emotional explosion that occurs when your toddler feels out of control. It's a practical demonstration of how your toddler feels inside - chaotic, confused and in pieces. Almost all tantrums happen when your toddler is with the people that he or she loves the most, which probably means you.
Tantrums are natural, frequent and, believe it or not, a positive step forward in your child's development. Tantrums prove that your toddler is beginning to develop a sense of themselves and a sense of their place in the world. Throwing a tantrum is your toddler's way of coping with the frustration that they feel when they can't hang on any longer to their fragile sense of who they are, and how they fit in.
When your toddler was a baby they needed you to order their day. Now they need you to order their mind as well - to use actions and words to make sense of what they feel and think. The most important thing you can do is to give them your attention. The more attention your toddler gets, the more they will understand themselves. And the more they understands themselves, the happier they are. It's not that toddlers want to be the centre of attention, it's because they lose track of themselves when nobody is focusing on them. And the younger the toddler, the more attention they need to stay happy.
If you find that you're giving your child attention mainly when he or she is doing something that they know they shouldn't, it can help to make a point of paying attention when they are doing something you approve of.
For example, when your child is involved with a game and playing happily, you can let him or her know you see them and are giving them attention just by adopting a neutral soft-tone comment - for example: "Jack is playing with the blue house. He's spread the pieces out carefully." With some children this can prove surprisingly helpful.