Babies and toddlers primary and secondary  experiences within the family context, especially in the first two years will have a huge bearing on how they learn about the social and emotional world of self, others and objects.  Satisfactory attachment is essential to emotional development in this development time.

Parental patterns of reacting and interaction with baby and toddler shapes their behaviour and perception of the world. I do know its very normal for toddlers to have intense feelings such as dislike, frustration, jealousy that cause tantrums. Toddlers do not have the ability to control their emotions and inhibitions.

Emotions are being experiences that are new and can actually frighten a young child as to how to handle frustration, sadness, anger, hurt etc. They’re a normal part of a development and don’t have to be seen as something negative. That is their way to deal with the stress in their life.

Toddlers are generally unable to verbalize their feelings, often not having the words to describe their fears and worries, nor are they able to take positive action towards managing stress when it arises. As language skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease. He can understand a lot of what is going on but can’t yet grasps how to handle it.

Responding to Tantrums and Strong Emotions

  • Tantrums represent real emotions and as such should be taken seriously
  • Some emotions are too powerful for a young child’s underdeveloped brain to manage in a more socially acceptable manner
  • A parent’s role in tantrums is to comfort the child, not to get angry or punish her.

Parents may have feelings of frustration, annoyances, and confusion as to what is going wrong and why, which is very normal when entering a different stage of child development stage, namely the toddler years. Toddlers will be doing simple experiments in cause and effect in their real-life encounters with others, including in their relationships with others. Items that are taken from them can cause them great emotional pain, as they associate a toy or something they have as an extension to themselves.

Temperament plays into it also, whereby some characters find it harder to get along with others as much as other toddlers their age. Some cultural background does not understand expectations of children and toddlers behavior so a high amount of negative discipline may occur. Toddlers are at an age where wants more autonomy and attention and needs active, positive encouragement of the boundaries to be set. They don’t have the memory recall to remember that she/he shouldn’t do an action or touch something etc. That’s why we end up saying the same thing over and over till about the age of 4 years 🙂

Negative behavior or negative discipline, such as shouting or a smacking, will only increase her/his frustration and sense of insecurity. What is needed is compassion, calmness from parents, to teach them the all-important life skills of learning to reduce their negative responses to stress.

Relaxation skills form an important part of self-coping skills for toddlers and children and, when learned effectively, can stay with them throughout their lives. I find what helps is trying to give toddlers some control over little things. This may fulfil the need for independence and ward off tantrums. These include


  • 5 deep breaths: (Diaphragmatic breathing or “belly breathing”): True relaxation breathing is a strategy that takes practice. To begin, have your little one take deep breaths so that their stomach is pushed out upon inhaling and relaxes during exhaling.
  • Bubbles: Blowing bubbles can help children feel calmer on a few different levels. First, for very young children, simply seeing and popping bubbles can be distracting enough from whatever originally triggered the upset.  For children, a bit older, blowing bubbles can encourage the deep breathing that will help bring about a sense of calmness.
  • Bear hugs: Your little ones can be encouraged to wrap their arms around their body and give themselves a hug. This can feel comforting for young children and it can also serve as a reminder to be kind to one’s self, especially during times of stress.
  • Play with putty: Putty, sand, Play-Doh, or similar materials can also serve as effective calming tools. Young children should be supervised while using this strategy to ensure the safe use of the materials.
  • Zikr and Quran: Soft, calming Quran reading and zikr can really calm a toddler down, as the Quran leaves a discernible and distinctly positive effect on all three components of a believer’s nafs  – the body, the heart and the soul. Sakineh mercy envelops when one listens to Quran. This mercy is felt as an all-enveloping sense of peace, serenity, tranquility and innate calm that can really not be aptly and satisfactorily described in words.
  • Change the scene: During the throes of a tantrum (or even a less intense state of agitation), kids can become stuck. They can become stuck in negative thinking and stuck in maladaptive behaviours.
  • Count to 10: or 50, or 100. Counting in itself can be calming because it focuses the mind on something else (which means that the mind isn’t focused on the stress).
  • Take a break: We all need a break sometimes, and children are no different. If it’s a particular task that became too frustrating (for example, a puzzle), encourage your child to walk away from it and return at a later time. If your child has been on-the-go all day, you can expect meltdowns so watching routine is really important to avoid overstimulation.
  • Massage is one that I use often and with older children, to encourage connection and relaxation, especially if the child’s love language is touch.


I can across some absolutely beautiful words by Dr Alan

Green, pediatrician:

“This is our goal:  to provide a nurturing environment where a child can develop at his optimum pace.  We don’t want to hurry him; we do want to encourage him.  We also want to identify anything that may be an obstacle in his path.”

He then advises a concerned grandmother to “observe your grandson’s spontaneous play.  This will give you the best clues to the developmental tasks that are important for him to learn next.

Children tend to be most excited about skills they are on the brink of mastering.  If you try to engage him in an activity that is beneath his developmental level, he will quickly get bored.  If you try to interest him in something that he is not yet ready for, he will become upset.

(Note:  babies don’t tend to cry when they fail, but rather

when the activity isn’t at the right developmental level)…Provide

situations where he can teach himself through playful exploration.

Forced teaching hinders development.”

Let me know your take or if any of this information is helpful.


Khadija AL-Kaddour
Founder & Muslimah Motherhood Coach
Muslimah Motherhood Circle