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Tantrum Vs Meltdown

Do you know the difference between tantrum and meltdown?

Kicking, screaming, hitting out, biting, throwing objects can be perceived as a child misbehaving, rather than a child in total loss of control over their their emotions. Here we will explore the differences between tantrums and meltdowns. This will help you in how to respond effectively.


A tantrum is very common in young children. Many toddlers don’t yet have the language to express themselves or the self-control to keep emotions in check. They may yell, cry, or stomp their feet when they’re frustrated or are trying to get something they want or need. Tantrums are intentional and behaviour based, while meltdowns are a reaction to being overwhelmed and sensory based. Tantrums can be stopped by giving the child what they want or by acknowledging their needs without giving in.


Meltdowns are a reaction to feeling overwhelmed. It is not something you can usually control. Lots of situations can trigger meltdowns depending on the person, for example pain, fear, unexpected life changes. It usually happens when too much information happens from their senses- also known as Sensory Overload. Meltdowns can be prevented by avoiding triggers or by removing the child from the over-stimulating situation and providing a calm and reassuring presence. Tantrums usually subside when the child gets attention, while meltdowns may last longer and escalate over time.

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