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What Is The Difference Between A Meltdown & A Tantrum – The Facts!


Have you ever found it hard to know the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown? The important thing to remember about tantrums and meltdowns is that tantrums have a purpose and meltdowns do not.

Tantrums subside as children get older but meltdowns do not. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two by just looking at someone. Here’s how to tell the difference.


  • Tantrums are usually displayed by young children.
  • Tantrums have a purpose.
  • Tantrums may stop when the child gets what they want.
  • A child has some control over their behaviour during a tantrum.
  • They may look at you to check you are watching during a tantrum.


  • Meltdowns happen when someone is overloaded, this can be sensory related but not always.
  • Meltdowns are usually longer and more intense.
  • Meltdowns can happen to people of any age.
  • You may notice stimming before a meltdown as the person may be trying to self regulate to avoid the meltdown.
  • The person may put themselves in danger during a meltdown, either through self-harm or not being aware of their surroundings.


Because a tantrum and a meltdown can look very similar to the naked eye, people often think they are the same thing. A meltdown is very different from a tantrum and it is important to learn how to support someone during a meltdown.

See our 5 Tips for helping your child through a meltdown!

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