Group Discussions

Dare I open this door... Toddler tantrums!

  • My 19 month old has just started REALLY losing it over things I don't understand. The other day he had a total meltdown because he didn't want to go down the stairs on his own, which he has been doing for months. I tried for a few mnutes to talk him through it and calm him down, but he kept saying "up mama!" and crying his heart out. I gave in and carried him downstairs. I felt like such a softie.

    When did your toddler start throwing tantrums? What triggers them? How do you deal with it, especially in public?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by designmom on 16th January 2008
  • My 15 MO sort of loses it a lot, but just crying, sometimes falling on the ground and crying. She has never thrown a full-on tantrum with screaming and kicking etc. But I guess she will eventually. Which are you describing with your son?

    I guess my strategy is distraction. Don't console too much if the trigger was over something minor, in case you inadvertently encourage future meltdowns. But be loving, too. I would just pick him up and without soothing him, say brightly, 'okay, let's go and get your snack ready' or 'let's see if there's any mail in the mailbox.'

    I intend to deal with it exactly the same way when/if she starts doing that in public. I know some moms are embarrassed to deal with something like that publicly, but I have had dogs for many years embarrassing me through various forms of misbehavior, so I'm over that public self-consciousness thing. Or, at least, I can put on a good front about it for the sake of my dignity.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 16th January 2008
  • yes! my 18 month old started just freaking out over little things. i think it is mostly figureing out boundries but they ARE easily distracted! for instance, when he didnt want to have his diaper changed and i was carrying him to his room - when i got there i would say calmly 'do you want to turn on the light?" and he would stop crying and say 'yes!' and be so excited about turning on the light he totally forgot to be upset! hilarious!

    this was a couple of months ago.. so not working as much lately. depending on the situation (if i can't think of a distraction in 10 seconds LOL) i either just tell him we dont have time for that and to come on (giving him a minute to gather himself) or just 'pretend' he isnt freaking out and keep doing what we are doing. but reallythe distraction is by far the best method!!! the others take longer but he is usually over it pretty quick and moves on...

    if he is just really tired or teething i will just hold him and snuggle him and it helps because i think he just feels yucky and that makes everything 10 times harder -even when you are a grown up!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kate on 16th January 2008
  • I know exactly what you mean. You all are describing toddler tantrums but my kids never had those. They are older like 8-11 and they do those now. I just keep doing what I am doing. Like going down the stairs on their own, just keep right on walking until you get to the bottom. Explain if they want to go with you, they will walk down or they can stay where they are. They will get over their tantrum and either come down or cry until they figure out that you aren't going to cave. That is the boundary thing. But if you give in, the tantrums will continue onto other things as well because they know that you will give in to them.

    Also, I have experienced tantrums in public too. Not fun! I try to just find out what they are upset about and if it is something I can help them with I do. Otherwise, I tell them to get over it, get a hold of themselves, or just get on with it. I have even left my daughter standing in the middle of the store while I walked around the corner and watched her. She got scared and decided to come with me. She doesn't do that much anymore. You just have to find out weather or not it is something that is scaring them or just something that they just want their way on. Just remember to not cave on their demands, because then they have you right where they want you.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Deb on 16th January 2008
  • I think it's because they don't have the words to express what they're feeling or to negotiate with you - so it makes them feel powerles and frustrated...and thinking about it-they essentailly are: Their adult caretakers make all the decisions.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Uhura on 16th January 2008
  • Tantrums are SO normal. Uhura is right that it is in part b/c they don't have words (some do, though, like my oldest who at 14 months could say, I'm mad at you mama). And I don't think it's ever something to be embarrassed about.

    Having been a nanny for many years and now a mommy, I have tried and true tactics for this. One is to say, calmly, "you keep doing that, honey, and come find me when you're done." Then walk away. You'd be surprised at how fast the kid regains control when he/she doesn't have an audience!

    Obviously you can't walk away from a dangerous situation. In that case, and this is number two (duh, Mandy), is to remove the child from the danger spot, put them somewhere safe and repeat number one. I say something like "we don't have fits on the stairs/in the bathroom/on the sidewalk." It works and you'll find that you don't have to do it too often before they realize a fit is not going to work in their favor! I've even said, "you can't have a fit here but as soon as we get home I'll let you have a big one." By the time we've gotten home she's either forgotten or has informed me that she doesn't need to have one anymore.

    My oldest is now 3 and very precocious. When she was 18 months (and I remember b/c I was hugely preggers with her little sis) she saw a little boy having a full-blown tantrum in front of the milk at the grocery store. The poor mom was in tears and M said in her most authoritative voice, "He's having a conniption. He should have his conniption at home instead so he's safe." Well I was mortified but the mom started laughing so hard. She told M she was completely right then looked at her son and told him she was leaving and he could come find her when he was ready. OMG, his reaction was priceless and she learned how to deal with the fit. It still embarrasses me a little though ;).

    Even a 12 month old can understand no and how to manipulate to get their way. Being firm with our children is one of the only ways we have to deal with them that lets them know that we are in charge. Remember that they need for someone to be in charge and, while it makes them upset at times, they look for us for that safety. Oh, but if a fit has escalated to the point where the child just can't stop crying, and that happens too, when they are crying and no longer know why they are doing so, then hold that baby!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 16th January 2008
  • Deb, I just read your reply and, um, yup! You said it in so many fewer words than I did. I could have just written "what Deb said." hehe
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 16th January 2008
  • LOL!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Uhura on 16th January 2008
  • What great suggestions! I really agree, Mandy, that if you child is truly distraught then they should never be ignored, but should be loved and comforted instead. That's how they learn the incredible human quality of empathy for others.

    Wow: you were a nanny - eeek. I would go insane.

    That's amazing that your baby could talk so young.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 17th January 2008
  • I just posted on the same thing. My 2 year old is out of control with his tantrums. But he can talk, too. He´s been talking since he was very small and he now uses full sentences, so it isn´t a matter of not being able to express himself, he is very good at that. But once he gets into hysterics, he is simply incapable of talking coherently. Nothing helps. Holding him only makes him kick and bite and scratch!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Genesis on 26th January 2008

Add a Reply