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Dare I open this door... Toddler tantrums!

  • Deb and Mandy are right on- You've gotta be firm, if he cries on the stairs and you know he can come down on his own- meet him at the bottom then pick him up- once he's calmed down. Don't pick them up when they are screaming- it only reinforces that if they cry and have a fit you'll break and they'll win- (get picked up in this case). He's just starting to test your limits and how firm you are going to be with him. Learn to set limits, boundaries and be firm now and it'll pay off 1,000 times over in the end!!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by nannyu on 6th September 2008
  • I have a 20mo and a 23mo right now, so I've just been through this stage twice in rapid succession.

    A lot is going on at this age, but one thing I always have to remind myself is they are usually teething. And teething does things to people. Like make them insane. Think of it as a toddler migraine. Then, they are growing and learning rapidly, which makes them tired, and they are noticing things about their body such as elimination, which they don't like being unable to control. I also noticed that my kids developed strange fears at about 18 months - fears of things that they thought nothing of before.

    I am very strict, but I find that sometimes, the little one is just hurting and doesn't even know what her problem is. At times like that, is it really that important to make them walk down the stairs? When they are hurting or afraid, arbitrariness will only make things worse. A little kindness followed by a reminder that that behavior isn't necessary, etc., was much more likely to calm my kids down and get them back on track. I usually didn't get repeat performances because it really wasn't a power play at all.

    We worry about the child "winning" but are we really in competition with our kids? I am not sure why you don't want to carry your child when asked - maybe you are carrying a load of laundry or another baby - but if it's not a burden, I'd just do it if it seemed that important. You wouldn't refuse to give your child a requested hug, would you, even if it wasn't in your original plans? I promise that even if you carry your child a few times, he'll go back to walking the stairs eventually if you don't make it a battle.

    If the child simply wants something she's not allowed to have, I'll ask the child to confirm that's what she wants ("you want this pen?";), so the communication frustration isn't there, but then say, e.g., "you can't play with the pen today, maybe another day. I'm going to put it away." This has worked for me a lot better than an arbitrary "no."

    When things got really out of hand - e.g., screaming over some small thing for more than a half minute - I put the offender to bed for a time out. I didn't go by the recommended "one minute per year of age" but left her in there until she started acting human again, which took about 15-20 minutes a couple of times. This was quite effective, but I wouldn't want to do it for every small offense.

    Good luck!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 6th September 2008
  • I'm going through this with my 22-month-old right now... excellent advice, SKL!

    Though I have to admit, this made me laugh: "...left her in there until she started acting human again." I've had to do this many times with my older kids, even now... it does work!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 8th September 2008
  • I can most definitely relate. My 3 1/2 year old is absolutely adorable at this moment, as he sits next to me singing "Twinkle twinkle little star". But rest assured, when he throws a fit, he transforms into a monster. His tantrums started almost two years ago, and I tried everything to deal with it: time-outs, swats on the bottom, ignoring, you name it.

    It was exhausting; I remember anything would set him off. I would be emotionally drained when he acted out in public, which he did often. How did I survive? I have no idea. I just did. With time, I was able to get through to him by holding his hands down tightly while I looked him straight on, and told him to stop. All I would keep saying is "stop it, stop it right now", with a very serious look on my face. As soon as he calmed down for a second, I would hug him close.

    So that's how we survived the public outbursts, which still occur to this day. At home, I have a different approach. I tell him to leave the room, now. He'll scream at the top of his lungs as he runs to his room; I hear the door slam. Moments later, he emerges, and he's calm. Those few seconds when he's not in sight are enough for me to regain my composure as well.

    There's no right formula. And no two are the same. My 6-year old has a very mild, calm temper.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by NJMom on 20th November 2008
  • This is a big topic at our house right now, trying to figure out the right strategy.
    My 19 month old is right there with yours. I feel like he is crying constantly crying and I have no idea why. He will be playing one minute and just lose it the next. It's so frustrating and so much harder than a baby crying because there could be so many reasons beyond the basic needs. Or no reason.

    One of my biggest struggles is that I will find myself saying or wanting to say "stop crying" but I also think that telling someone to not cry is telling them that their feelings aren't valid. So, I've been (trying) to react to impromptu crying over nothing by saying, it's okay to be upset but then try to figure out what he's upset about and see if we can get through it together.

    That said, I nearly broke down the other night at dinner. Sometimes I just want one day with no crying.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by BrendaG on 20th November 2008
  • Worst idea that I have done...ignoring it. Did not work for my older child at all...that would make it worse. He wanted me to acknowledge, validate, and respond. Now I tell him that I am sorry he is upset, remind him of the rules so that he stays safe because we love him so much, and if needed time by himself to calm down. When needed I also do a time in with him.....and we discuss it when he calms down....yes, the time in you have to be willing to sit there with thim, endure the crying etc..but in the end it is worth it. Children are an investment....nothing happens overnight. Good luck! and remind yourself....they are only little once!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamadiva on 21st November 2008
  • I have a three year old and the tantrums were frequent at certain periods of time. My first reaction to the tantrum to try to understand why he is crying. Is there something that is of real importance to him that makes him cry. There were so many times when people would tell me "Oh he is just throwing a fit, ignore him or his whining" and I am so glad I did not as most of the time there was a valid reason for his crying - like he wanted to go to washroom while at the store but could not explain, or he dropped something, or something in the room scared him. I try to think if it was an adult asking me for something - would I just plainly refuse without an explanation? I agree with the need to set up boundaries, but I also think parents often get too caught up in the power plays thinking that children want to control them, when really it's being able to accomodate a child as a real although very small person. We've had a couple of fits in the stores and both times my reaction was to pick him up however crying and kicking and just walk him out of the store and into the car, once he was calm, I'd discuss that with him and explain why this is unacceptable.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Maria O on 21st November 2008
  • I have a 15 month old who started throwing fits a couple of months back. They have definitely lessened in length. Depending on what the tantrum is about I do one of two things. I might distract him. This works best when he is just fussy because he is tired or grumpy. Other occaisions, I just over power him - but not in a hurtful, mean way. Like for instance, on days that we go to the playground after school he throws a tantrum when its time to leave. I just tell him that its time to go home, pick him up, and take him off to the car. He usually cries and tries to kick. I tell him that I know that he is disappointed that we have to leave but we have things to do at home. The crying and kicking now only last for about 10 seconds. It used to be the whole way home. He also doesn't like to hold hands when he walks, which doesn't work when we are in public, especially near a street. He starts to freak and pull away his hand. I get down to his level and tell him that if he doesn't want to hold hands that he can go in the stroller/be carried. Then I hold his hand again and usually throws himself on the floor and refuses to budge at which point I put him in the stroller or carry him. He is getting to the point where he holds my hand now. It took a lot of patience because his fits used to be so long and loud but they are definitely shorter and shorter now. He is getting the point that when I say something, I mean it. But, again, I don't do this for everything. I have to pick my battles and for lesser things, especially when he's just plain tired, I just distract him.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by oceans mom on 21st November 2008
  • I just also realized that I didn't address the stairs issue. This, I don't think, is really an issue of misbehaving so there really isn't a need for time out or anything. He probably just really wanted a hug or some interaction with you. Maybe he was just tired. But it really doesn't sound like an issue where he was trying to misbehave or go against something critical to his well being.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by oceans mom on 21st November 2008
  • I have never experienced tantrums with my oldest two , only with the two younger ones I think being a slightly older mother this time round my parenting style has altered a little.
    The youngest is 18 mths old wow Wow she is a real Madame when she is ready she has acquired the art of dramatically throwing herself on the floor and crying without hurting herself lol.
    If she wants something and I tell her no that is all it takes and then she will go to her dad who gives her anything to make her happy ! HELLO
    I have told him he is only making it worse for her .
    If she is just being a little monkey like opening the fridge and running off with the tomatoes and I say no she has a melt down I explain and then leave her to get over it which she hates as she slyly looks at me, she has very few with me now. The second dad walks in she changes from being happy to touching plugs and crying for everything .
    I find that it happens every few years with children as they test there boundaries i.e
    Nearly two, starting nursery , starting primary school etc .
    Every time they get a little bigger and move away from you as they progress, and then sometimes any attention is good attention if your busy cooking etc.
    I do not do tantrums I either distract which really works like "oh my gosh Danny did you just see that aeroplane fly past"
    Tantrum forgotten if it is just being difficult, I explain let them get on with it as long as there safe, they soon forget all about it when they are not being watched and pleaded with.
    It is now my 15yr olds turn to have temper tantrums at the moment as I have downgraded his xbox playing times to only over the weekend as he is studying towards his gcse 's , lol .
    I have never known him so quite as long as he does not throw himself on the floor I should be ok as there is no way I could lift him up anymore. LOL
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lolmummy on 19th January 2012

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