8 different kinds of tantrums

Is he winding up for the 'stop, drop and roll'?
Is he winding up for the 'stop, drop and roll'? Photo: Getty Images

Here's the thing about tantrums: while they're a universal rite of passage for most littlies, they aren't one-size-fits-all. They can vary depending on the context, on which parent or carer the child happens to be with at the time, on how old the child is, and on what's at stake. It certainly isn't easy being a little person, having to learn to cope with strong emotions and working out the rules of the world all at once, that's for sure.

There's a handy algorithm, actually, one you'll probably be oh-so-familiar with if you're deep in the trenches of toddler-wrangling. It goes a little something like this: toddler's capacity < circumstances demand from them = don't bother. And you thought you'd never need maths in the real world!

Here are eight different kinds of tantrums you may have encountered …

1. The dying swan

Arms outstretched, limbs flayed, back arched, body contorted in a way only young children/prima ballerinas can manage. You can almost hear the swell of the strings, the symphony rising to its dramatic conclusion … except you can't, because your child is on the floor, flapping, kicking, and shrieking.

2. The bolt

Excuse me? Did you just say no? Well, I'm out of here then. See if you can catch me. *Turns* *Runs*

3. The silent protest

I'm not going to say anything, I'm just going to sit right here in the middle of the cereal aisle. And I'm not going to move. I'll just glare at you with my arms crossed … for as long as it takes for me to get my way.

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4. The plank

Remember back in 2011, when everyone was all about planking? I suspect it was simply adults getting in touch with their inner toddler, because toddlers have been planking since forever – they just never had the means to post it all over social media. There's nothing like a toddler planking in an awkward, inconvenient position to make you want to dig a hole right there and disappear.

5. The hide and seek

If I can't have my way, I'm going to crawl under the desk/chair/shopping trolley. Come and get me! Oh you can't? That's unfortunate. See you NEVER.

6. The stop, drop and roll

Do you recall, back in primary school, learning the 'stop drop and roll' technique as part of fire safety education? Well, it's back. Toddler-style. In this new (but not so improved) version, we stop, we drop to the floor wherever we may be, and we roll. Or writhe.

Actually, 'stop drop and writhe' is probably more accurate.

7. The Shakespearean tragedy

These tantrums are the pinnacle and a little "all of the above". Tears, gestures, passionate dialogue. Perhaps an operatic soliloquy about the total injustice of it all. And sometimes, just when you think it's all over: an encore. 

8. The 'thank goodness that's not my child' tantrum

Self explanatory, really. And hands down, absolutely the best kind.

Which of the above do your children do? Are there any other varieties you'd add to the list?

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