Negativism and temper tantrums in children

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Negativism is a developmental state majorly seen in toddlers aged 14 months to 36 months. During this state, toddlers are more prone to their independence and do not accept the rules or requests set by their guardians or elders. Sometimes, it is also known as “temper tantrums.”

Before discussing the main reasons for negativism, let’s discuss how a child behaves in it.

How does a child react in negativism?

During negativism, “NO” is the most commonly used word by toddlers as they become reluctant to perform what they have been asked to do; instead, they try to decide everything by themselves to get a sense of independence.

Although this stage of development can be frustrating for the guardians, it allows the toddler to develop individualism along with distinctive abilities and innovative ideas. However, if caretakers do not handle the kids with sanity and care during this state, the possibility is that kids will throw more temper tantrums in the future.

Reasons for excessive Negativism or temper tantrums in children

  • Unable to perform tasks physically
  • Overly restricted kids
  • Enthusiasm and much excitement
  • Frustration of restrictions
  • Unable to express in words
  • Lack of understanding of realistic limits
  • Get a sense of self-sufficiency
  • Gain independence
  • Inquisitive nature to learn

How to cope with negativism?

If this is the situation, it would be best to focus on the positive and use the word “NO” minimally, whereas it is better to convert the negative sentence into a positive one.

Instead of saying,” Do not use the mobile,” asking them to play with your toys now will be the right approach while handling the kids.

Let’s help toddlers overcome negativism.

  • Talk to the toddlers about your plans before time.
  • Give the toddlers options and ask them to make decisions whenever possible.
  • Give words to their feelings, such as, “I know you don’t like eating spinach, but this will make you strong and powerful.”
  • Do not order; instead, try to make a request using a soft tone.
  • Let them do their work when possible.
  • Help them with the work they are unable to perform themselves.
  • Ignore or give them some alone time during temper tantrums.
  • Avoid burdening the kid when not in a happy state of mind due to hunger or illness.
  • Give warmth by hugging or talking to them after temper tantrums to show you still love them but are not happy with their behavior.
  • Try to explain the causes of your rules and instructions, so they know the reason behind your instructions.
  • Stay consistent with your words. For example, if you have told them not to jump on the bed and still find them hopping on it, it is time to show your disappointment. Punishing them once and letting them go away the next time will confuse their mind.
  • Do not laugh at the mischievous behavior of your kids.


Negativism is a developmental stage, but when not handled carefully can convert into long-lasting temper tantrums. Therefore, the most crucial factor is understanding the underlying cause of negativism and temper tantrums; however, one can handle the situation using suitable approaches. The main principle behind these approaches is to avoid saying a straightforward “NO” to the children. Instead, simple acts, for instance, saying “Play with toys” instead of saying “Do not use mobile,” can help manage the situation.

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