Toddler Meltdown

Meltdowns, tantrums, hissy fits call them what you will but they all end in tears.

Perth mum and school teacher Megan Mcnab is no stranger to toddler tantrums.

Aussie author and early childhood specialist Maggie Dent has raised a household full of boys and seen her fair share too.

But there's more to the tears than what meets the eye. Tonight, the chemistry behind why kids crack it! And why parents need to see the science behind the behaviour.

According to Maggie, when your little one gets worked up- it's completely chemical- their inability to remove the hormone "cortisol" from the body. "So what they have to do is discharge the cortisol, get it out of the nervous system and that's what a tantrum does, mixed with some spectacular moves you actually discharge the stress hormone."

Unlike adults, toddlers don't have a developed frontal lobe in their brain to help them calm down. Struggling to breath and hyperventilating are all reactions to their little bodies adjusting to the "coming down" of the nervous system.

"So it's actually a chemical reaction of the brain so next time it happens, if it's your child just look around and say oh no sorry it's just a massive discharge of cortisol from the brain very shortly they will settle down." According to Maggie, there are two types of tantrums- the first is the hormonal release, the second is a lot more strategic.

Knowing the difference between the two is a real test of patience for parents but there are ways to prevent and resolve the rollercoaster ride of emotions.

First up, never take your kids to the shops or on errands at the end of the day.

Food is a great distractor and according to Maggie boys always behave better with a full tummy. "Regardless if you have just had lunch, give them some more food because we find boys' behaviour is a lot better if they have eaten within a nino second of any activity."

When your little one erupts in full fury, screaming back or threatening to walk away only fuels the fire. "Kneeling nearby down, just right near them so they know you're close by and if you can just quiet sounds, its ok I'll just wait."

According to Maggie the most important thing parents can do is to revisit the experience 2 days later when everyone is calm, whether it's a trip to same spot or just talking about it.

And while there's no perfect parenting style, Maggie says her biggest tip is to never judge or expect smooth sailing, "I think 80 percent of parents are looking at us going thank god it's not me, there's only 20 percent going terrible parent remember just let that go."

Maggie's new book "9 things" is available now