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How long of a tantrum do you consider normal for a two year old?

The background info: 3 kids 9, 2, and 1 month. The 2 year old who, when prompted can have tantrums that last for hours on end. I dont remember my 9 year old ever really having meltdowns of this magnitude. I realize tantrums are normal for her age group but when does a tantrum become a red flag for something more than just a 2 year old having trouble dealing with her own emotions?

I have seen my two year old throw things, and even a couple of times beat her head on the floor. Developmentally I believe she is on track. I havent noticed anything that would lead me to believe there is something wrong beyond her fits of rage. I am only curious because it affects the whole family negatively but I dont want to get laughed at by a pediatrician who may think I am just over reacting to the situation.

So for the moms out there who have gone through this already, what is a "normal" 2 year old tanrum? Is putting her in "quiet time" a correct way of handling it because it doesnt really seem to help much, and could this just be part of her personality?

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Asked by SaturnsMom at 8:37 PM on Jun. 26, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 12 (920 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • I really don't know. It varies with each child so you really gotta pay attention to your two year old's needs and why she might go on as long as she does. Perhaps allow the child to throw her temper tantrum, but don't give in to what you said no to her about. Talk to her and tell her she needs to do this or she'll suffer the consequences. Communication is key. Perhaps because she is the middle child she feels she's getting less attention? Alot of times the middle child feels that way. Ask your doctor anyway, no matter how embarrassing it might seem. I'm sure they can help.

    Answer by Imogine at 8:41 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • Also I don't think there is such a thing as a "normal" time frame of a temper tantrum cause each person is different.

    Answer by Imogine at 8:41 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • My 2 year old throws some pretty serious tantrums but non that I recall ever lasting for hours. Most recently, he screamed his head off for 20 minutes after leaving the party supply store because he didn't get to have the train balloon he saw there... But usually his tantrums last just a few minutes before he is either distracted by something else or realizing that his nonsense is getting him nowhere.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:42 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • Nip it in the bud, now! Time out asap. Do not let a 2 yr old run ur life. U are in charge... I have a 17yr old a 13yr old and a 3yr old. My 3yr old goes to head start and when we do group outings, some of the moms tell me that my daughter listens to me and does not have tantrums. That is because I nipped it in the bud the first time she did it. Stick to the same routine when ur kid misbehaves. Until they get it and believe me they will. ;)

    Answer by 2and1 at 8:45 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • when tantrum is this big, time out will not work, child is way beyond rational thinking
    i think that is a long time for tantrum
    when my child was this age, she had head banging tantrums, her ped did laugh at me - well said "kids are quirky"
    later found out she has autism, first was senosry processing disorder, then dx of autism
    i am NOT saying your child has autism - just my story

    also.... i took out red dye #40 (and all LAKE dyes-artifical food dyes) her tantrums decreased to almost nothing in a week
    read food labels and do not allow anything with LAKE dyes in it
    red 40, yellow 5, blue 1 - are most common
    this COULD be a reason for tantrums, i am not the only mom who has a child who goes INSANE when has these chemicals


    Answer by fiatpax at 8:46 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • She may just be very persistant on what she wants. You compared her to your older child (which is all you have to go on I get that) but your older child didn't have to fight for attention as your 2 y/o probably does (just a guess not saying you're a bad mom) with having an older and younger sibling. In birth order the middle child tends to have more "issues".,8599,1672715,00.html 

    Give this a read. 


    Answer by luvmygrlz at 8:48 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • The happiest toddler on the block book addresses this sort of issue - i would highly recommend it and the DVD with it. It changed our lives

    Answer by nurse_maya at 8:56 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • yeah it makes sense that my older child was an "Only" child and that may have made a big difference in his tantrums. Also I get that being a middle child is probably a factor. I dont give in to what she wants when she has a fit, but I am not so sure about daddy when mommy is at work. We deal with it now by sitting her in her time out chair in the next room until she calms down but she sometimes it doesnt end until she wears herself out and falls asleep. I do like to be aware of warning signs for things like autism which is another reason why I ask because my son has alot of Aspergers symptoms and is actually dx'ed with adhd. so its sounding like tantrums for over an hour=not normal 2 year old behavior? and they are literally over things like not getting to watch tv.

    Comment by SaturnsMom (original poster) at 8:57 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • it just depends on two things....their personality and what reaction they are getting. my oldest son never really had a tantrum at all. my daughter had some a few months ago but dropped it when she saw all it got was a time out. the middle child is different. he has tantrums still and he's now 3. if he starts with a tantrum i put him in time out right away. if he is still making noise in time out then i send him up to his bed. he can come down from his bed when he's ready to straighten up and fly right. it has really decreased the duration and frequency of the tantrums. just stay consistant and it works well. he has tantrums a couple of times a week, but now it's only over 'major' things. i think he's going to get over it soon (fingers crossed lol)

    Answer by princessbeth79 at 9:18 PM on Jun. 26, 2011

  • I think if a tantrum is lasting that long it indicates significant frustration. Tantrum behavior is about frustration, in general, but prolonged raging indicates a holding on that is related to frustration, perhaps triggered by resistance from you. So yes, putting her in "quiet time" could contribute to the problem if the issue is her being triggered to counter-resistance by your resistance to the behavior (putting her there is a punishment for the tantrum behavior, essentially? She doesn't have a tantrum because she's in quiet time, but the quiet time is a response to the tantrum behavior?)
    I know that an hour or more is not unheard of, but I think it is possible to help/support the situation so that she can reach resolution & return to equilibrium sooner. (I wouldn't consider it just the way things have to be, but rather a sign that something isn't working for her.) I don't think the answer is punishment, either.

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:02 AM on Jun. 27, 2011

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