I have just noticed this in 2 boys, aged 3,4.

The 3 year old used to throw tantrums quite frequently over trivial matters (such as me holding the ball I'm throwing in the right rather than the left hand). He stopped doing this somewhere in the last 3 or 4 months, while the older one started throwing tantrums over similarly minor things.

When the younger one would throw the tantrums, the older one used to quietly watch (kind of in awe or taken aback). He would look at the younger one as if puzzled by the behaviour.

Now the older one has taken on the frequent tantrums, and the younger one looks on in awe.

I'm not sure what's going on here. I'd like to reduce the frequency of the tantrums, but the weird thing to me is the behaviour swapping. Will this continue to happen? (ie tantrums from one but not the other and vice versa, in periods?)

2 Answers 2


Wild guess: The older one saw how the tantrums got attention from the adults, wanted it himself and learned to do it from the younger one. I've been amazed at the behaviors my son has brought home from daycare.


Tantrums usually seem to be around attention getting. Children of all ages go through phases of playing up in order to get attention - your eldest may have thought it worked for his younger brother.

You need to make sure your response is consistent, however you'll need to be more robust in your response to an older child, pointing out to them that while it is not good behaviour for a toddler, it is even less acceptable for an older child.

Don't respond by giving more attention - put them aside, on the 'naughty step' or similar.

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