My toddler is throwing tantrums and jealous of her little brother !


Q:  Salam Dr, how to handle tantrum of toddler? My 1 year 10 month old girl always throw the things when she unsatisfied with something. Sometime she scratch to our face to show her mad. One more thing, I think she is a bit jealous with her new brother, 3 months old baby. She sometimes bites him at his arm, nose and finger. I feel a bit worry and we try to stop her from doing that to baby. We talk gently to her but still, she do the same when got chance. She is such a good girl when I with her (only). She not disturb me, even she not crying or shouting unreasonable. We have gave full attention to her, we spent our time to make her happy. We bring her out & buy good food for her.. But when it happen to see his little brother, she will take chances to left her scratch towards the baby. Thank you. ( Basyirah )

A: Dear Basyirah,

Thanks for the very interesting question! You’re not alone, many parents face this situation with their toddlers.

Tantrums are a normal part of childhood development, especially between the age of 18 months and 3 years. Tantrums often involve screaming, and sometimes hitting, biting and even breath-holding. This can be difficult, embarrassing (especially when it happens in the middle of the supermarket) and even frightening for parents.

Parents often refer to this period as the ‘terrible twos’! It’s important to realise that children who throw tantrums are not purposely being naughty. They are just ‘testing’ how to express their feelings safely and how to assert their developing will and personality.

As parents, there are several ways we can help our children to deal with their emotions and avoid tantrums.

  • Set clear limits of acceptable behaviour.·
  • Be consistent. (This will teach your child that rules are important, and you will stick to them.)
  • Ignore the tantrum, while making sure that the child is safe. Easier said than done, but paying attention or giving in will only encourage her to throw more tantrums!
  • Catch your child when she is being GOOD, and reward good behaviour, rather than focusing on negative behaviour.
  • Star charts – keep a calendar and draw a star / smiley face for each day that the child behaves well. When she has a certain number of stars, she gets a reward.
  • Distraction! You can often avoid a tantrum by diverting your child’s attention to something else.

Tantrums can be distressing, but if we remain calm and provide loving, consistent support, the child should soon grow out of it.

I found this factsheet very good for explaining tantrums and how to deal with them.

It sounds like she is a little jealous of her little brother. She may feel worried that she will not get enough attention from her parents, and that all the attention will go to her baby brother. As parents, you can help her get along with baby brother by:

  • – Continuing to give her enough attention and love, so she doesn’t feel neglected and jealous. Make it a point to set aside some special time with her every day.
  • – Involve her in playing with and looking after baby brother, so that he is also ‘her’ baby. Show her how much fun it can be to have a baby brother to play with!
  • – Always have an adult supervising when she is with baby, to make sure that both she and the baby are safe!

Hope this is helpful to you and your family. All the best.

( answered by Dr Pravin Vasanthan )





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