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Understanding Meltdown and Tantrum. What is the Difference?

Meltdown and tantrum are two terms that are often used interchangeably when referring to the behaviors of young children, but they actually refer to two different types of emotional outbursts. While both meltdown and tantrum are forms of emotional distress, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand.

Meltdown

A meltdown is a term used to describe a reaction to overwhelming stress or frustration. It is typically characterized by a loss of control and an inability to manage one’s emotions. Meltdowns are often seen in children with autism or other developmental disorders, but they can also occur in neurotypical children in certain situations.

During a meltdown, a child may become overwhelmed by their emotions and may exhibit behaviors such as crying, screaming, or hitting. These behaviors are often a result of the child’s inability to cope with the situation and can be very distressing for those around them. In some cases, meltdowns can lead to self-injury or harm to others.

Tantrum

On the other hand, a tantrum is a term used to describe a fit of anger or frustration. It is typically characterized by an intentional display of anger or frustration in order to get one’s way. Tantrums are often seen in young children, but they can also occur in older individuals who have not yet learned how to manage their emotions effectively.

During a tantrum, a child may exhibit behaviors such as crying, screaming, or throwing things. These behaviors are often a result of the child’s desire to get their own way and can be very frustrating for those around them. Unlike meltdowns, tantrums are typically a conscious decision to act out in order to get what the child wants.

The Difference Between Meltdown and Tantrum

One of the key differences between meltdown and tantrum in children is the underlying cause of the behavior. Meltdowns are often a result of overwhelming stress or frustration, while tantrums are often a result of a desire to get one’s own way. Additionally, the behaviors exhibited during a meltdown are often involuntary and uncontrollable, while the behaviors exhibited during a tantrum are often intentional and calculated.

Another important difference between meltdown and tantrum in children is the age of the child experiencing the behavior. Meltdowns are more commonly seen in children with developmental disorders, while tantrums are more commonly seen in young children. However, it is important to note that both behaviors can occur in children of any age.

It is important for parents and caregivers to understand the differences between meltdown and tantrum in order to effectively support and manage their child’s behavior. For children experiencing meltdowns, it is important to provide a calm and supportive environment and to help the child learn coping skills to manage their emotions. For children experiencing tantrums, it is important to set clear boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behavior and to teach the child healthy ways to express their emotions.

In conclusion, meltdown and tantrum are two different forms of emotional outbursts in children. While both behaviors involve an inability to manage one’s emotions, the underlying causes and exhibited behaviors are different. Meltdowns are typically a result of overwhelming stress or frustration, while tantrums are often a result of a desire to get one’s own way. Understanding the differences between meltdown and tantrum is important in order to effectively support and manage children experiencing these behaviors.

Assessment for Children

FIT IN Child Developmental Centre


If you still cant tell the difference and have concerns, visit your nearby experienced child developmental centre to get your child diagnosed. FIT IN Child Development Centre provides ABA therapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy for all Special Needs Children.

You can also book an assessment that only takes up to 90 minutes with the experienced therapists there.

Visit their website https://fitin.edu.my/ or contact (WhatsApp) +60 12-213 6788 for more information.

Mr Sai Mun
Mr Sai Munhttps://mrsaimun.com
A teacher at heart, who's blog and YouTube has garnered over 5 million views. He co-founded multiple companies which creates breakthrough in education, special needs and entrepreneurship. Currently a father of two, navigating and exploring parenthood.

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