Difficult behaviors and tantrums - What could they mean?

“She just doesn’t want to do it”

“gusto lang niya ko magalit”

”Ilang beses ko na sinabi” 

“he’s just so stubborn”

These are some of the phrases we hear from parents about young toddlers showing challenging behaviors at home. 

However there’s something to keep in mind when this happens — children innately would like to succeed in what they’re doing or trying to do, especially our young ones who are learning to be independent. It is unusual for them to think and do things with malice at this age unless someone teaches it to them. 


More often than not, these challenging behaviors are their unintentional way of communicating; which gives us, as adult, the challenge to investigate what it means. It is also likely that they are still missing skills to successfully do what we want them to or to do them in a more mature way.

A meltdown or tantrum can actually mean many things:

"My feelings are so big, I’m unable to control it."

"I don’t yet have enough words in my vocabulary to say how I’m feeling."

"Unlike when I was a baby, I’m growing my sense of likes and dislikes and learning how to take control of things around me."


Don't get me wrong, we must still set boundaries and rules, and it is certainly part of life to face challenges and big emotions; but we may need to pause, take a different perspective and provide support. We can do these by helping them calm down, develop new skills to problem solve and also how to understand and learn from those challenging moments so they practice new ways to cope. In time, and with practice, we hope to see less and less of these challenging behaviors. 

Having these behaviors are part of normal development. However, when you're uncertain or feel that the behaviors are excessive compared to other children, do not hesitate to approach your pediatricians or primary care providers who can help with better understanding the situation. 

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