Often used in the plural, tantrum denotes an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child. In this paper we attempt to enact a feminist project of reclamation and reconfiguration of ‘the toddler tantrum’. Drawing on a range of theoretical traditions, this paper investigates the complex yet generative possibilities inherent within the tantrum to argue that it can be encountered as more-than-human, as a worldly-becoming, and as a form of resistance to Anthropocentrism and childism. We propose that the tantrum might be reappraised as a generative form of (child) activism. By mobilising the potential of arts-based approaches to the study of childhood we seek to reach other, opened out and speculative accounts of what tantruming is, what it makes possible, and what it might offer to stretch ideas about, and practices with very young children. We undertake a tentacular engagement with children’s literature to arrive at possibilities to resist smoothing out, extinguishing or demonising the uncomfortable affective ecologies that are agitated by child rage. This paper brings together a concern with affect, materialities and bodies as they coalesce in more-than-human relationalities captured within ‘the tantrum’. In doing so, the unthinkable, the unbearable, the uncomfortable and the unknowable are set in motion, in the hope of arriving at a (more) critically affirmative account of childhood in all its messy complexity.
Dr. Jayne Osgood is Professor of Childhood Studies at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her work addresses issues of social justice through creative, affective methodologies. She has published extensively within the post- modernist paradigm with over 100 publications in the form of books, chapters and journal papers, her most recent books include Postdevelopmental Approaches to Childhood Research Observation Bloomsbury, 2023) Postdevelopmental Approaches to Childhood Art(Bloomsbury, 2019) and Feminists Researching Gendered Childhoods(Bloomsbury, 2019) She has served on the editorial boards of various journals and is a long-standing board member at Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. She is currently editor for the journals: Gender & Education and Reconceptualising Education Research Methodology. She is also Book Series Editor for both Bloomsbury (Feminist Thought in Childhood Research) and Springer (Keythinkers in Education).
Dr. Victoria de Rijke is Professor of Arts & Education at Middlesex University and Co-Chief Editor of Children’s Literature in Education Journal. Her research and publication is transdisciplinary, across the fields of literature and the arts, children’s literature, play and animal studies, through the associations of metaphor.