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i am very concerned and don't know what to do. my sweet 11 mo.
old boy has recently started throwing temper tantrums and will
lash out with aggression. he is never around this kind of
behavior nor does he watch it on tv. if he can't have something
he wants or do something he wants he will scream an ear
piercing scream and will hit or try to push me away. he has
grabbed other kids ears and hair in anger and scratched his
playmate the other day. is this normal for a baby his age and
how should these incidents be handled. so far i have tried to
be consistent and not give in to his tantrums but i am at a
loss as to what to do about the aggression. thanks in advance
for your advice!
Sounds like a typical one-year-old boy you've got there. At
aroung 11 months we started teaching our son the word ''gentle,
be gentle'' In quiet moments I would stroke his face gently as I
repeated the word. I would take his hand and guide it to caress
my face and then caress his own face with his hand while
repeating ''gentle'' By the time he was about 13 months he was
still wild but he knew the meaning of the word so he would make
a game out of pating me, his dad, and our dog ''gently.'' I think
it is o.k. to say ''NO'' sternly if he is particularly harsh in
the moment or if it involves another child. Look him in the eyes
and say ''no hitting'' etc...
Also there is nothing worse than a parent who does not apologize
to the parent whose child was just hit or bitten.
I am perplexed. My very even-tempered, happy baby has suddenly
(like within the last three days) begun to have what sure look
like little temper tantrums. She will be playing happily, and
then suddenly she wants something and will throw herself face
first on the floor and scream. Is this normal at the tender age
of 12 months? Is it just a side affect of a growing sense of
will? Or could it be the affect of teething? Any great learned
wisdom out there?
Hi there- I EXPERIENCED THE EXACT SAME THING!!! My son who is
now almost 14 months started doing that too- throwing tantrums
like he was having the terrible twos or something. I was at a
loss for what to do and how to deal with it and a good friend of
mine said that really you should (as long as they aren't hungry
or tired) ignore it when they scream and fuss for nothing and
really limit your reaction. Also when they calm down, talk
soothingly to them and say how scary that must have been to be
soooo upset. It is difficult to do, but if you are trying to
cook dinner and your son is screaming (happens to me) just talk
to him and explain what you are doing and when you can, pick him
up and reassure him and tell him its ok. Once he has gotten his
fill of mommy time, he most likely will go play for awhile by
himself... good luck and let me know what happens!
It seems like all the perfectly sweet babies we know, including
our own, started throwing fits at between 10-15 months. We try
not to react to the tantrums, since we don't want to reinforce
that behavior, but try to direct her energy and avoid the
tantrums if possible, otherwise just deal with it and let her be
angry for a moment. It got a little worse (e.g., head banging,
gymnastic back arches) before it got better.
my baby is 13 months and increasingly cries when we take
something she wants or wants something and we can't/won't give
it to her (it's not safe is the usual reason).
I think part of it is they are older and smarter and frustrated
that they can communicate better what they want, are not as
easily distracted as before and don't get why they can't have
what they want.
However, my partner and i are very firm about it, we never give
her something if she is crying, tell her why she can't have it
but also feel free to comfort her so she doesn't feel sad
anymore. We see very positive results in that the crying stops
and she doesn't use that to communicate as much as before. We
also see what looks like ''fake crying'' where she cries or wails -
looks at us to gauge our reaction and either stops or
escalates! it's comical sometimes. But in general she is a
great baby and understands more than kids are often given credit
don't feel guilty about being firm. i have witnessed the
disaster of kids who weren't taught to be patient or not to
cry/whine and it marks the rest of their childhood! i think the
transition from infancy to toddler-hood is very important for
parents to make. you can't give in to them and you have to
guide and teach them to understand which behaviors are ok and
which aren't. it will only get worse if you don't learn to be
Last week a friend's very energetic, strong-willed 16mo
daughter held her breath during a tantrum, as she often
does. The difference was that this time, she fainted and her
breathing was then very shallow. She did not revive until 10
minutes later, when woke up because she vomited. 911
arrived, and she is now okay, but...
Has this (breath holding during tantrums) happened to
anyone out there? If so, how did you deal with it? My friend
had been trying not to give her daughter too much attention
during her tantrums, but due to this terrifying experience,
she is now completely at a loss as to what to do if her
daughter does this again...which she most likely will. My
friend is looking for any advice and/or resources about how
to best parent her daughter and keep her safe!
trying to help
Our daughter did this, and it is scary. But, it is harmless. The
reason they faint is because they need to breathe. Once they pass
out, they begin to get air again. What worked for us was to
remain totally calm, both before and after the episode. We would
hold her while she was having a tantrum, sing a soft song, and
say, ''listen to Mommy sing. Can you hear mommy sing?'' This would
catch her attention, and she would often calm down, trying to hear
the song. Or we would say, ''there goes the train/bus/dog...do you
hear it? Listen.'' As she gets older, she may continue to hold
her breath as a way of making her parents freak out, so it is very
important for them not to react and for them to know that it is
not harming her to faint. And our daughter did grow out of it by
the age of three.
Breathless in Berkeley
My second son, a very active, bright and intense 15 month old, is a breath
holder. He has been having cyanotic breath holding spells (versus pallid
spells) since he was 4 months old. He has held his breath long enough to become
unconcious on many occasions. He cries once or twice, holds his breath,
becomes ghostly pale, turns blue around the mouth and either regains his
breathing or passes out. He passes out for a minute or so. After an episode
it takes several minutes for his breathing and color to return to normal, he
sweats profusely and he often wants to sleep. Anger, frustration or pain are
always the trigger. He has never thrown up during an episode.
We recently had our son evaluated by a neurologist at Children's Hospital. The
evaluation included an EEG and an exam and discussion with a neuroligist. As
our pediatrician thought, he is normal and healthy. Seizure disorders and
apnea have been ruled out. In time he will outgrow this behavior. 4 to 5
percent of children are breath holders. It tends to run in families, although
nobody in my family or my husband's family has ever exhibited this
behavior. Nobody in our family has our son's temperment though. Most kids
outgrow it by the time they are 4 years old and most begin doing it around 6
months old. This year, a time of frustration, falling down and inablity to
communicate, will probably be the worst. Breath holding and the resulting
unconciousness, can lead to a seizure. This does not necessarily mean the
child has a seizure disorder.
I would recommend that your friend ask her pediatrician for a referral to a
neurologist. Breath holding, especially if the child passes out, is extremely
upsetting to everyone in the family. It gets us every time. Aside from peace
of mind, one useful bit of information we learned from the neurologist, is to lie
our son down while he is holding his breath. An episode can be shortened
when the heart is level with the brain. We had always held him upright in our
arms. Also, remain calm, advice that I can't seem to take. Even knowing he's
going to be okay, it's so upsetting to see my little boy pale and limp in my
If your friend would like to talk, I'd be happy to go into more detail on my
recent experience with the neurologist or just lend support.
My 17 month old daughter has in the last 2 weeks suddenly
erupted into daily tantrums, mostly around me either preparing
food or eating food myself (especially at dinner). I have tried
several approaches: including her in my activities by pulling
her stool up to the counter (works pretty well for a while but
obviously can't be used when I sit down to eat myself), playing
a short video (rapidly losing its appeal), bringing out a
special mealtime basket of novel toys (rapidly losing its
appeal), simply ignoring her (recipe for quick escalation) and
putting her in her room for a brief time out(surefire way to
bring on a full-fledged freak-out). Sigh. I am getting very
discouraged. My husband and I decided this morning that we'll
try having dinner after she goes to bed for a few weeks and then
see if she's ready to join us again, but in the meantime, I'm
awfully confused about the whole separation anxiety + tantrum
thing: It seems to me that what is setting her off is not having
my undivided attention. Is this something I should be
sympathetic to in the name of separation anxiety (which she
clearly is feeling right now) or is it more a bid for power? Or
some combination of both? It seems wrong (and highly
ineffective) to restrict access to me as a way of ''disciplining''
her if what is setting her off is separation anxiety. Or am i
just being too much of a softie?
Just a few things that came to mind when I saw your post:
First, it seems that around 18 months, and again around 30 months (the
''half-years'') seem to be when children's behavior becomes most difficult
to deal with, so your daughter's right on target.
Second, I don't think you're too much of a softie. Everything reasonable
I've read suggests that at 18 months, most ''discipline'' involves avoiding
the conflict in the first place, and distracting once it's happened, rather
than providing consequences (like time-outs)-- kids are simply too
young to understand the latter most of the time.
Third, my husband and I only recently started eating dinner with my 30
month old son; before that, he just couldn't sit still long enough. He'd
finish his dinner in half the time it took me, and start begging me to come
play, and misbehaving to get my attention. So I think eating dinner after
your daughter's asleep is probably the best plan for now.
Finally, during the meal preparation part of the problem -- is there any
chance your daughter's hungry? My son, normally a sweet, easy-going
child, totally melts down if he's at all hungry -- his personality completely
Just some thoughts.
I highly recommend two books that may be helpful to you. The first one I read
when I was getting a Masters in Education and the second I found when my
baby was born.
1. Positive Discipline by Nelson
2. The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears ( Ch 5 is called ''Taming Temper Tantrums''
I feel your pain with the tantrums! Yesterday my daughter had
her 18 month doctor's appointment and I was assured that this is
developmental and that she's coming into her own and learning
that she's an independent person but feeling a little freaked out
by it. I've chosen to adjust my reaction to her tantrums to the
situation at hand. If it is possible for me to stop what I'm
doing and comfort her, I will. If I can talk to her about what's
going on (''I'm just going to used the potty'') I'll do that. But
if I can't respond immediately, (I'm scrambling eggs and she's
trying to be picked up) I don't. I admit that on occasion, I've
even threatened to put her straight to bed if she didn't settle
down. I've even raised my voice and said ''Enough!'' and believe
it or not it sort of startles her into quiet and then I explain
what I'm doing and when I'll be able to attend to her. I'm not a
model parent. I lose my patience and I get frustrated. Maybe
not having a consistent response is not the best approach but for
now it is working for us. I hope that she learns that I will do
what I can when I can but that once I've reached my limit, then
that's that. I guess my thought is, I don't experience her
tantrums the same way every time so it's hard for me to react the
Anyway, about not eating with your daughter, that's a tough call.
My daughter and I don't always eat at the same time in large
part because we don't eat the same things. I can see where in
the short run it might make mealtimes more pleasant to feed
your daughter first. I also can see how it might be beneficial
to struggle through this until she get's out of this stage so
that she'll see mealtime as family time. I've decided that I'm
going to try and do better about eating together even if we're
not eating the same thing. Good luck.
My daughter (20 months at the time) started throwing tantrums
right after we moved. After a few months of my being distracted
with selling and buying a home, and the packing and unpacking of
boxes, she began to throw full-fledged, throwing herself on the
floor, screaming and kicking, tantrums. It's as though she had
had enough and decided to try a new approach to getting our
attention. Everything I read said not to give her attention for
the negative behavior.
So after making sure that she could not get hurt by anything
around her, I just pretended to ignore her, all the while
watching her out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes it was just
a 15 second one. The worst was probably two or three minutes
long. After she was finished, she was in a normal or even good
mood. It was as though she felt a ''phew...got that out of my
system'' kind of thing out of it. But in the meantime, I was
afraid my neighbors would think I was beating my child.
After two weeks of this behavior with no change, I decided to
change my approach. Since this might be her call for more
attention, I decided to devote an entire day to having fun with
her. Everything was about her. We went to a Kindergym class. We
played at the park. We did whatever she wanted to do - fun stuff
I knew she liked. She slept well that night (no tantrums). And
after that, I just made sure she got uninterrupted Mommy time
every day just to make sure. So far, no more tantrums.
Your child's tantrums may be coming on at dinnertime because
it's late in the day and she just can't take it anymore. And so
then...there she blows! Good luck and hang in there. This is a
frustrating time for them because they KNOW what they want, but
they're not always able to communicate it to us.
Mama who can't wait for the verbal skills to improve!
Try one of those high chairs that fastens to the table and
place a make-up mirror in front of your toddler, out of reach,
of course. My daughter suddenly began enjoying mealtimes
when she could watch herself eat.
My 18-month-old has gone to sleep pretty painlessly since she was about 5 months
old, but recently she has been having a harder time saying goodbye and ending the
day. We have a ritual of reading, nursing, and singing, but she has now begun
asking for things - a different book, singing songs again, choosing different stuffed
animals - as delay tactics. When it's time for me to leave, she says, ''no no no!'' and
begins to throw a tantrum, which usually involves jumping, banging the crib and
sometimes falling and hitting her head, or banging her mouth. I took the crib
bumpers out long ago and there is nothing to protect her. If I go back in because I
think she hurt herself, it is harder when I leave and she starts the tantrum again. Is
there anything I can do to make the crib safer that won't allow her to climb out?
Should we switch her to a bed? Is this just a passing phase? Thanks for any advice
You might consider switching to a pack n play, and not putting it
directly against any furniture or walls. Good luck!
Check out the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy kid - the Weissbluth book -
it mentions the crib/head-banging stuff. My 2.5yr old did this for a
while and it broke my heart, but after MANY nights of responding and the
family basically falling apart from lack of sleep I realized 1) that he
wasn't really injured (no big bruises, no bleeding lips) and 2) that for
the health of all involved we had to get through this, so I left the
house and let my husband listen for a few nights and it did pass. It was
a phase. Our son also hit his head against the floor when he was mad.
Our doctor promised that it would pass and it did.
It helped a lot when he learned a few words and each jump in his
language skills has equated with a decrease in teh crazy tantrums - even
as he enters his twos.
I think I heard somewhere that you can duct tape pillows to the side of
the crib, but I wasn't sure how safe that would be once they did fall
asleep. If possible I'd let her work it out for a few nights and see if
she calms down. Also - I figured out only after a while that a lot of
the loud bumps I was hearing was actually my son lying on his back and
slamming his feet onto the mattress rather than slamming his head. Feet
were a lot easier to deal with. I feel for you - these fiesty kids are
tough to parent but I keep thinking, they're going to be really dynamic,
motivated and wonderful adults. Best of Luck mama of a slamming rock and
She seems to be delaying you leaving, not delaying going to bed. Could
you bring some reading for yourself and sit with her instead of leaving
the room (maybe with a little booklight, or even sit with a little
candle that would be bright enough for you but still relaxing for her)?
There will be plenty of days in the future when she doesn't want you
around, this is a chance to add another bit to your already nice routine
you described. We had friends who did this with their sons (who were
fearful of them leaving) - after their routine, the father sat in the
doorway reading to himself. He wasn't ''held hostage'' and his kids had
the comfort of his presence in the doorway.
She may not hurt herself but she may, and worrying about head lumps
right at bedtime is not conducive for a peaceful evening.
I have a 2 year old son. His behavior has changed over the last
3 months and I need help with two specific things. I'm not
surprised he has changed (we just had twins, we got a new nanny
to help me, he entered day care, he is 2, etc), so I know things
will be hard for a bit, but I'm not sure how best to handle these
1.) He is whiny a lot and cries a lot of the time. He was never
like this before. He was only cranky when he was sick. We do the
''use your words'' bit and the ''I can't hear you when you are
whining'', but it doesn't seem to have any long term impact and
sometimes not even short term. Sometimes these episodes turn into
all out tantrums where he screams and cries for long period of
time. We have tried the time out, the staying calm and trying to
talk him through, the sitting there with him screaming on our
lap...all without much success. Sometimes it goes on so long, he
completely loses control of himself all together. Obviously
dealing with this while nursing twins is a bit hard.
2.) He is waking up a lot during the night. Most of the time, he
just calls out Mommy or Daddy and we go to him and he goes back
to sleep. Sometimes, he calls out, we go and then he does this
again 45 minutes later. Some nights, this repeats over and over.
After a few hours, we bring him into bed, where he sometimes
sleeps and sometimes stays awake and keeps up awake. We haven't
tried letting him cry it out because he used to wake up screaming
and we taught him to ask for Mommy or Daddy rather then screaming
so now we feel we should honor his request for us. Again, having
to handle this while getting up 2 times a night for the twins, is
difficult to say the least.
So, I am looking for strategies to handle this during this
transition time and any information on how long it all might
last. He seems like to like the twins (gives them things, talks
about them, smiles at them), but since his behavior changed
pretty much when they showed up, I don't know if this is the
terrible two's or sibling/mommy attention issues.
Thanks in advance
Mom of now three
2-year old tantrums - aren't they special? here's what we did, and they disappeared
after about a week or so. i told her mommy had a hard time understanding what she
was saying, so please use a calm clear voice. i never discussed whining or crying. if
she didn't respond with a calm clear voice, she didn't the first few times, i knelt
close to her, touched her gently and lovingly said in her ear that i was sorry she was
having a hard time and i would love to help her sort it out, so when she was ready
for my help i would be at x (like sitting in the next room) reading my book and she
could come get me. it helped if i had a snack ready to go, like a graham cracker or
fruit leather (something that would boost blood sugar level pretty quick) to offer
Wow! You have your hands full and it sounds like your little
one does too with all the changes. Have you read Happiest
Toddler on the Block by Karp? Some great communication tools
for toddlers. He has a very different approach that emphasizes
talking to them at THEIR level. Feels kind of goofy at first,
but we've seen some good results.
Best of luck
My 26-month-old son has recently started displaying a very difficult
''terrible two'' symptom. When faced with a choice of two mutually
exclusive alternatives (''I'm finished with my meal and want to get down''
versus ''I want to stay at the table and eat''), he seems to want both of
them (when he's sitting at the table he wants down, when I try to help
him down he wants to stay up) -- and keeps noisily demanding the one
he's currently not getting.
This is very frustrating for me -- the only two methods I've found to deal
with it are ignoring him (and it can go on for a very long time), or just
making one of the choices for him (pretty much guaranteed to result in a
tantrum). Neither seems to me like the way I want to handle it, but I can't
seem to think of a better solution. Talking to him and explaining that he
needs to make a decision simply doesn't work.
I know this is normal toddler behavior -- they just don't know how to
make decisions yet (this is after all a pretty complex cognitive skill).
What I am looking for are tips and strategies for smoothing out this
difficult stage, helping him to make a choice when he gets stuck in one
of these ''I want it both ways'' ruts, while minimizing the tantrums for him
and the stress for me.
One answer: read ''Becoming the parent you want to be'' by Laura
Davis and Janice I-forget-her-last-name. Wonderful book that
helps you find your own way of dealing with difficult behavior.
The library should have it.
What they want, it is their way of experimenting with
control. ''I want down, Mommy fusses over me, I want up, Mommy
fusses over me. I want...''
Baby will learn very fast if you make clear, age appropriate
rules, for example Leaving the dinner table equals no more food.
You say ''if you get down, you're done eating, Do you want to
stay and eat, or get down and no more food?'' Let's say he
decides to get down then throws a fit because you wont pick him
back up. Have someone else (dad...) take him outside or to a
differant room to calm him dowm and distract him. Finish your
dinner. Later If he is still hungry have dad or you feed him a
business-like meal (so he is nourished) after just a couple of
times he will learn that in this particular situation tabtrums
are not tolerated. IF IT NO LONGER SERVES HIM HE WILL STOP! I
was at dinner once w/ my 2.5 yr old niece. she was doing the
same thing. Grandma said ''if you continue Im taking you out to
the car.'' (not a big deal to our adult minds but toddler want to
be whare the action is) Grandma ended up taking her out 2 times
kicking and screaming (for 3-4 minutes untill she calmed down).
The second time she was brought back in she was an angel, and
her effort to behave, in order to stay part of the family fun,
My 2.5 year old does the same thing. She wants the piglet
toothbrush and when I bring that she wants the tigger one and
can have a tantrum over something like that. Or it could be that
she is supposed to get in the bathtub and wants to get in
herself, but isn't getting in and so I say that I will put her
in, but she wants to get in herself, but doesn't and this loop
can continue. However, I have noticed that this primarily
occurs when she is tired. When she is not tired it is still
hard for her to make a decision: she could spend 10 minutes
staring and trying to figure out which toothbrush to use if
offered a choice. (Of course, you're aching to say JUST PICK
Oneat this point). So I just say ok this one and this is her
prompt to choose the other one and she is happy with that
So, I believe that decisions really are hard and yet she wants
it to be her own decision. When she is not tired she can handle
the weight of it all and when she is tired, she just can't. At
times like those, I try to keep my voice as relaxed as possible,
move things along before I get mad even if I have to take charge
of the decision, and when I have my wits about me try to make it
funny ( a song about it, a monkey that howls and scratches and
then becomes aware and says sorry, a towel on the floor that is
a yellow brick road, etc. and a kiss or hug usually help) before
a tantrum has time to set in.
All that said it is extremely taxing and one of the things that
makes taking care of a toddler depleting even if they are so
cute and lovable.
Our toddler also does the ''yes'' then ''no'' type behavior. We
call it the ^Qpush-pull^R and it can get really rough. It started
benignly enough, and we would allow him to try different
alternatives to each and every issue. Then we realized that it
had turned into a way to manipulate us, particularly when he
gets embarrassed, scolded, or caught off guard. We sought some
advice from a person who works in early childhood development.
She told us to limit choices and act on his first choice. We
still allow him to make decisions, and then let him live with
the consequences. So, for example, if he says he doesn^Rt want
anymore dinner, then dinner is taken away ^V and that is the end
of it. After a few tantrums, he started looking for other ways
to express himself (we encourage him to use words and he is
getting pretty good at that). Good luck!
pushme pullyou Mom
If your toddler is simultaneously demanding two mutually
exclusive options, offer him a third!
If he both wants down from the table and to keep eating, suggest
that he go play with his trains -- or whatever positive
alternative that will distract him from the impossible
It really works when done with enthusiasm!
Until he is older and can actually choose, maybe deciding for
him without his really knowing it might work and avoid a
tantrum. It's a bit more work for you but what would happen if
you say ''It looks like your finished eating and want to get down
now. So, lets go play with the fill in the blank.'' You are
articulating for him the experience you think he is having and
providing him with a distraction from the thing he is giving up
(sitting at the table) with something fun! He often really does
want both things (I think we have that experience alot too) but
he doesn't have the frustration tolerance to give anything up.
Sometimes we don't either. Hence I want to have my cake and eat
Oooooh! I remember this! My older daughter used to drive me
crazy with this! I will bask in a moment of ''I'm so glad I
don't have a toddler anymore'' then give two pieces of advice ...
OK, 1) try as much as possible to let him make the decision and
act on it, e.g. put him in a chair instead of a high chair so he
can get down or up on his own. Part of what he's reacting to is
an aversion to his dependency on you -- he wants to do it
himself. Of course then you'll have to deal with him getting in
and out of the chair over and over again ... 2) distract!
distract! distract! Most kids this age have very short
attention spans, but they do get stuck in a rut & you need to
interrupt that repetitive behavior. If you must make a choice
for him, e.g. lifting him out of his chair, ask him a question
or make a joke or say something silly. I've headed off tantrums
by saying in a loud voice ''Oh my god! Look at that!'' And then
when I had her attention either making something up or
saying ''never mind'' ... the point is to grab their attention so
they forget what they were about to pitch a fit over. TTSP!
(This Too Shall Pass) Good luck!
I have, until recently (the last month or two) had what I thought
was the easiest toddler in the world. At 2 yrs, nine mo. however,
she is the epitomy of a ''terrrible two.'' I'm at my wit's end.
Everything is a battle. And it's random. This morning, when she
woke up, she said good morning to me as she always does, then
when I went to open the curtains, she started screaming and
crying telling me not to. When I told her not to scream and to
talk to me that way, it made it worse. I told her I would come
back to get her out of bed when she could calm down and speak to
me nicely. That didn't work either. She screamed for 20 minutes
and finally climbed out of her crib for the first time. I have
tried reasoning with her. I've tried distraction. I've tried
taking things and things to do away. She doesn't seem to care.
''Time outs'' don't work. She just follows me around screaming. I
am at a loss. I stay at home with her (have been for almost 2 yrs
now) and there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't have
some kind of fit. Some days it's all day long. I could go on and
The things that have changed recently are that she doesn't see
some of her relatives as much as she used to, for logistical
reasons they just don't come around as much. She's in the middle
of potty training. Also, she is trying to give up her naps. Other
than that life goes on pretty much the same as it has. I need
some guidance. Some days it's all I can do to keep from walking
out the door.
Just know that you're not alone-- our 2.5 year old is behaving
the same way. I, too thought maybe we wouldn't have the
terrible twos, but it hit with a vengeance about 2 months ago.
What I have learned is that it's all about control and they are
just starting to understand how little control they have over
their environments. So when I say, ''Let's change your diaper''
and he says no, I say, ''Okay, tell me when you're ready to
change it and we'll do it.'' And within 3 minutes he's ready and
there's no battle. Also I think it's important to acknowledge
the feelings, like ''Oh, you don't want me to open the curtains
right now? OK. Why not?'' Then they at least feel like their
expressions of needs are being heard (no matter how ridiculous
they seem to us).
Granted, these ideas don't work for us all the time, and even my
husband who is Mr. Patience is starting to lose it sometimes.
But my friends with older kids assure me that he will outgrow
this stage, probably by the time he's 3 (6 months away!! yikes!).
Good luck. Like I said, you're not alone.
Ah, the twos! It can be so exasperating for parents. I have a
2.5 year old myself and an older child. I feel for you. I hope
other respondents will recommend good books, as nothing
comes to mind right now. When kids are this age they get a
new spurt of wanting to do things on their own, trying their
independence, yet desperately need to know that you are
still there. They are also limited by how few words they have
for expressing their feelings and what they can do
physically, and sometimes their frustration builds up so
much that they scream! What I try that works best is to try
and put myself in my child's shoes. How would I feel if I so
desparately wanted to do this particular thing by myself and
couldn't, or if I wanted to say what was boiling up in me and
couldn't find the words or my parent didn't understand me? I
must say that many times I fail and get impatient or short
with her, yet I always feel bad about those times and they
aren't helpful. What I find works best is to stay connected,
not to walk away or leave her alone, to keep a bit of a
distance if that is what she wants, but to see if picking her
up after some of the storm has passed and hold her, rock
her, will help. I try to follow her leads through the storm, and
try to feed back what she is feeling: You are so frustrated
that you couldn't do ....., that makes you really angry. Or if
there is a way that I can let her do what she wanted, I'll give it
a try if it is safe. Sometimes it has to do with wanting to do
something herself and I did it too quickly for her. Yes,
usually it is unreasonable, meaning, not following reason, it
is emotion at its most raw, and it is hard to stay with it.
Sometimes it seems this emotion just needs to be
released, it could be a build-up of the whole day. I also
always wonder if she is hungry or tired, and try to take care
of her needs, if not in the middle of the storm, than shortly
You wrote there are some other things going on, relatives
not visiting as often, potty training and outgrowing naps.
These are all BIG things for a little child. Is there any way the
relatives could come around a bit more often during this
turbulent time? Or are there others you could reach out to
for some company, play time. Is it time to start a playgroup
for her with you and other moms? Outgrowing naps and
learning to use the potty are big steps and can stress her
out. It is not easy to learn something new, and going
without a nap usually means being tired (cranky, etc) for
some of the day. Also what I tell myself is: this is just a
stage, it will pass! I try to breathe and do whatever I can to
stay calm, and remember that it has very little to do with me.
Also I try to give myself space to experiment a bit. What
helps, what makes it worse? (For example, staying close or
giving some distance, singlng, distracting, or just staying
present with the tantrum.) Finally, I learned some
interesting tools, or perhaps an accepting attitude from
some booklets by Patty Wipfler, from the Parents
Leadership Institute. They are at 650 332-LEAD, and
www.parentleaders.org. They have a packet of 6 or so
pamphlet for $7 with one booklet on Tantrums. The packet
is called ''Listening to Children'' and you might find it helpful.
Anyway, my heart goes out to you, and please know that you
are not alone in this stage of your child's life.
Your daughter is turning three! It is not the terrible twos, but
the terrible threes. Read the book titled ''Your Three Year
Old: Friend or Enemy?''. My children never experienced the
terrible twos, but the threes were really hard. Get the book!
Been there, too
My daughter is 22mo and she too will follow me around the house
screaming, that is if daddy's not around. I can tell her no
and she loses all control of her emotions. I too feel somedays
of wanting to give up. My husband is very supportive but he
doesn't see our daughter that way very much, as I stay home
with her. I'm told that she is just testing the limits. I'm
supposed to give her choices but after two or three tries of
helping her get what she is asking for, then stop and say no.
An example is that she will say she wants milk. Not until
after I've already poured the milk, she'll change her mind and
say No, no Mommy, want juice. This irks me to no end as she'll
go back and forth, like a game. Ocassionally I will just give
her both :) She then pauses a moment and says, No, no Mommy,
want water....she doesn't even like water. I feel for the moms
who go through this. Days seem like they drag when our little
ones don't get their way. Hang in there. Blessings.
First, I want to commend you for not losing you temper with your
daughter and for
trying to understand why she might be acting this way, as well as
coming up with
constructive ways to deal with her behavior. Parenting is not easy
the instruction manual at birth!) and it is a learning process for both
I am not a professional child psychologist; I do have a bachelor's
psychology and have a 10 year old myself, but you may want to seek the
advice of a
professional if your daughter's behavior gets worse. The last thing
you want to do
is encourage this type of response from her for a prolonged period of
time so that it
becomes more engrained in her personality versus getting through a
phase that she will outgrow (which I believe is the case currently).
It sounds to me that your daughter is not responding to your direct
setting boundaries. This is why the time outs, telling her not to talk
to you in
particular ways, telling her to go to her room, etc. aren't working.
Instead, I think
the key may be to set the boundaries indirectly, or at least less
overtly so that she
doesn't feel so threatened by them. Perhaps, she is responding to some
change(s) occurring in your lives and is displacing her anger in these
situations with you. If that's the case, changing the way you interact
with her when
trying to correct her behavior seems like it would help remedy the
In concrete terms: Ease off trying to reason with her so directly since
responding so negatively towards it. Don't tell her not to scream or
not to talk to
you that way. Instead, try to encourage her positive behavior when she
is good by
rewarding her (e.g., give her a favorite dish, dessert, toy, take her
on a favorite
outing, etc.) Start little rewards for the little, good behaviors, then
move to bigger
rewards for the behavior you'd definitely like to stay, like the
example. when she wakes up in the morning and says good morning to you,
give her a hug and smile and reward her for saying good morning. Now
distracted with her reward (a toy or snack) open the curtains slowly
and if she
doesn't respond negatively, reward her again by promising an outing or
breakfast. If she is not fully distracted and starts to get angry,
don't open the
curtains just yet and come up with a completely new distraction (''I
think there are
birds outside!'' Oh! I think I see a cat!'') Then, reward her if she
comes over to open
the curtains, but especially if she calms down. The fact is, you can
always open the
curtain when she's out of the room if it means avoiding a fight. The
timing of your
response and rewards are critical because you don't want to positively
negative behavior. It may be hard in the beginning but try making
it works. And definitely reward her for talking/interacting with you
in a respectful
way, whether it's hugs and kisses or playing with her for a moment
spoke nicely to you. Ultimately you will decrease your rewarding of
displays of good behavior and just concentrate on the rewarding of the
displays of good behavior. Also, this change needs to be consistent
with all of her
care providers, including your family, so as to give her the consistent
However, if a strong and solid trial of these types of changes don't
dramative change in your daughter, I would strongly recommend a visit
professional to seek out the cause of her behavior.
I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck. Hang it there!
I have a 2 year old toddler as well, and I think some tantrums
are inevitable (and normal). I recently bought a book called the
Happiest Toddler on the Block, a sequel to the Happiest Baby on
the Block, written by Dr. Karp, an LA pediatrician. The
Happiest Baby on the Block really helped us with our daughter's
fussiness as an infant, so I thought it was worth trying this
book. It has some excellent suggestions on how you can
communicate with your toddler on her level to let her know you
are listening to her, even if you can't always give her what she
wants. He also describes why a lot of tactics like reasoning or
distracting don't work terribly well when a toddler is melting
down. I've found some of the techniques he suggests work really
well, although it's a little hard to describe them concisely.
Dear Desperate Mom: Your child's behaviors are NORMAL! Taking
privileges away and other forms of punishment are not a good
idea. If the giving up of the nap is making her too tired to
function, she may not be ready to give it up (my three year old
still naps -- a lot). If you can stand it, the best advice I
have is to stay quietly nearby -- so she knows she's safe and
that you're available -- and let it happen. Three is the time of
needing things to be exactly how you need them to be, regardless
of how you needed the same things yesterday or even ten minutes
ago. So she's not late on the two's; she's early on the threes
(which lasts more than a year).
Please try to keep whatever patience you have. I have two
daughters, 3 and 5, and they still have the need to melt down
regularly. Keeping your cool will help your child regain composure.
Being a toddler is exciting and challenging and also scarey and
frustrating. There are so many new things to learn and do, so
many things they still can't do. And so many feelings and
emotions that they just can't express yet. My 2.9 year old
daughter was a having a fit the other day because I did
something for her and she was screaming ''I wanted to do it!'' So
I said, ''Okay, honey, you can do it.'' and she wailed, ''But I
can't!!'' Very frustrating. Sometimes you just have to ride out
a tantrum and be sympathetic. Don't you sometimes get pissed
off and want to rant and rave about it to someone and just have
them listen? So, when she does have a tantrum, you can help her
express her feelings and also give her guidance in the
appropriate way to do that. ''I understand that you're mad at
mommy for opening the blinds, but I don't like it when you hit
me and I don't want you to do it again.'' I think timeouts and
punishments will only lead to more anger and frustration.
While you can't control a tantrum, sometimes you can manage to
head them off. First and foremost, make sure your toddler is
well-rested and well-fed. Nothing leads to a tantrum faster
than a hungry, tired toddler. Second, keep your child informed
about your plans and actions. ''I'm going to open the blinds now
so we can start our day.'' ''When you're done with that puzzle
we'll have a snack.'' Third, give your toddler choices they can
handle whenever possible. ''Would you like to wear the pink
shirt or the yellow?'' ''Would you like a peanut butter sandwich
or a hot dog?'' They like to feel in control of their lives, but
too much control or choice is scarey! Finally, make sure your
toddler knows that no matter how much they can do, no matter how
independent they are, and no matter how impossible they are at
times, that mommy/daddy/caregiver will always love them and be
there for them.
This could have been my post 4 months ago (in fact, it was! and
I didn't get any really helpful feedback, so I decided to write
about my experiences)
My son is 3.5, and when he turned 3-seemingly to the day-he went
through a Jekyll and Hyde sort of transformation from my ultra-
sweet 2 year old to this tantrum-ridden, willful, difficult
little boy. Like yours, my son was transitioning from 3 hours
naps to none (?!), our family pet had died, and the nanny had
left to have her own baby. Some days my son would have 2 to as
many as 4 tantrums. I was very unhappy (between the pet, my own
ill health at the time, and the lack of support) it was a pretty
stressful time for both of us.
To make a long story short, we finally had two show downs-one in
the car, when he started having a tantrum and I snapped- I just
said (very loudly) STOP, STOP, STOP. I was so afraid I was
going to get into an accident with this major distraction going
on, and I was unable to pull over at the time. He *instantly*
stopped. The second instance was at 3:30a.m. when he threw a
tantrum, and with no resources in the middle of the night to
draw on, I followed his tantrum with a tantrum of my own (to my
shame, admittedly). Incredibly, these two instances seemed to
give him some sort of boundary to operate from-the tantrums
stopped entirely almost immediately.
I had been reading voraciously - and I was trying to employ
every tool I could learn of (the best I read was Positive
Discipline by Nelson, which I found quite helpful once we got
beyond the tantrums). Like you, time outs didn't work for him-I
finally started giving myself time outs - saying I needed time
to ''cool down'' (which I did!). In any case, I am convinced it
was 1) a stage we simply had to go through and 2)it was *very*
helpful when I finally figured out that if my son took a very
early and brief nap (no later than 12:30, and up again at
1:30pm) he was good for the rest of the day until bedtime at
7:30 or 8:00. He definitely needs 6 hours in between getting up
from his nap and going down for the night. If he doesn't have
it, he will simply resist and/or sit straight up in bed bright
eyed until 11pm or later... So those are my helpful tips.
Thankfully, the nanny is also back, with baby in hand, and we
are all a much happier, more settled family once again.
Good luck-there is an end in sight-
Sounds like you've got a text-book toddler. Here are some tips
that helped me through this phase (although I had the Terrible
* Remember that she's supposed to be acting this way. It's
developmental. She can't help it. It's her nascent self coming
out of her total dependency on you. Celebrate it. Laugh.
* Pick your battles! She's going to battle you on everything,
so only go to the mat when it's important. She doesn't want you
to open the drapes? Fine. Wants to wear her pajamas to daycare?
Fine. Won't get in the carseat? Not fine. Tell her what you
need her to do, count to three, then pick her up and strap her
in. She'll scream and cry, but tough. You're bigger. You're the
mommy, and she'll very quickly realize you won't be swayed on
thit particular topic. (not to worry, she'll find another).
* Keep routines. Get her up at the same time every day and with
the same song. Toddlers like the SAME cereal and often a
particular bowl. My daughter wouldn't eat unless she had the
Magic Spoon (a regular spoon with designs on the handle).
They'll only wear the Batman shirt? So have three on hand. Go
ahead and let them watch the same Wiggles video over and over
and over until you want to kill someone. Bedtime routines are
also very important. When toddlers know what to expect out of
the day, they're much more likely to go along with it.
*Distractions. Use them early, use them often. See a tantrum
coming on? Sing and Dance! You might startle them out of it. Or
say, ''Check out these ants!!'' and they'll forget what they were
planning on protesting.
* Food! Oftentimes a cranky toddler is a hungry toddler. Always
have little baggies of raisins, Cheerios, rice cakes or
whatever on your person. And the little bags are a KEY part of
I hope some of this helps. I think the most important thing to
remember is that this is all just a normal part of your
daughter's development and it will pass. I know how exhausting
and enraging it can get, especially if you don't ever get a
break. But come at it with humor and understanding, and as much
patience as you can muster. You'll live to tell the tale. Keep
Attack of the Toddlers survivor
It sounds like there is a lot going on with your little one. She is
trying to give up her
naps.....do you think she is ready or is this a way she is just trying
to assert control ?
I think your little one is just going through a pretty typical stage,
the sleeping may
be a combination of missing you and her new found will.
My son tried desperately to give up his nap around two. He slept with
us until he
was 3.....so I am an advocate of ''nighttime parenting'', and moving
him was hard,
but I finally did reach the point of letting him cry duirng nap fits.
It was hard, but I
so glad he still naps now and has a no hassle routine(most of the
time). He is 4 now
and I believe the early evenings would be harder on all of us if he
gave up his nap.
Whatever you decide, remember, they say the half-years are a little
nutty. I am a
You might want to read ''The happiest Toddler on the Block'' by Dr
Karp which talks about toddler tantrums and why they occur (they
are normal for this age group) and how to deal with them.
I've been through this with two kids, and I only have this to
say: 2-year-olds are crazy. I mean that, they are literally
insane, by any grown-up definition. That's why it doesn't do
much good to reason with them, or reward them or punish them.
They don't really have control of their behavior. So, how do
you live with them? Well, there are certainly days when you
think you can't. I used to fantasize about running away from
home, maybe to Mexico, changing my name so no one could find
me ... What I actually ended up doing was just enduring. My
mantra -- and I actually posted this on the refrigerator -- was
It Changes. When you're caught in the hell of a two- or three-
year-old's meltdown you forget that it won't always be like
this. It helps to read books about child development, which
will reassure you that your kid is normal. It helps to vent to
other parents who are going through the same or worse. It helps
to get out of the house -- pop the kid in the stroller & just
get out -- fresh air and exercise make everyone feel better.
Two-year-olds are having an awful struggle with control -- they
want to control everything and can hardly control anything.
They want to do everything themselves & can hardly do anything
themselves -- your daughter probably wanted to control the
opening of the curtins. And they can't articulate what the
problem is, so they get very frustrated & often explode. So
they're basically extremely irritable for a year or two, like
This might be a good time for her to go to pre-school or daycare
at least part-time, so you can get a break from each other & she
can have a fun time with a peer group & get some additional
socializing from other adults. My kids got a lot of benefits
from their daycare/preschool experiences, and it probably saved
It may be your daughter is one for whom time outs feel like
abandonment. Have you tried time-ins? I will sometimes say
something to my daughter like (w/ empathy) ''Wow, you are sure
having some strong feelings and because you are (crying,
shouting, kicking fill in the blank) so much I can see you are
having a hard time managing them. I don't want to get hurt or
see you get hurt and I want to help you through this time, so I
will hold you close until you feel better.'' ''It's okay to have
these feelings and as you get older you will find a way to tell
me what you feel. Until then we'll do this.'' And in a very
nonreactive but warm/tender way I held her. if kicking I held
her close and tight to communicate she had to stop. but if
crying I often just had her and rocked her and stroked her.
I found that she really did not have many tantrums and that
this kept them from being more traumatic than just the
excitement of the first self assertion or disagreement. Some
times we adults lose it and chew someone out or act
inappropriately, so don't judge a toddler too hard for not
being able to control her emotions. I think the 'randomness'
you describe is that she's feeling out her world...what can she
control, what can't she. who gets to say for x, y, or z. mom or
me? i don't think it's limits testing, i think it's more
empirical and less emotionally frought than that. the choices
thing might help here: I noticed yesterday that you got upset
when I raised the shades. Today should we do it before you get
out of the crib or after? would you like to help me?
Good luck. it will pass!
survived the twos (almost)
I need some advice about what to do about my husband's reactions
when one or both of our kids go into tantrum mode. We have 2
kids, ages 4 and 8, and both have tantrums at the end of the
day, sometimes fighting with each other as well. Often these
happen before my husband even gets home from work, but my
reaction is to ride out the tantrums, separate the kids, provide
diversions, and keep them well fed and rested so that they
tantrums don't occur so much. His reaction, however, is to have
a tantrum of his own--last night, for example, he began
screaming at me about how they are manipulating us, that we need
to ''get control'' of them, and how bad my parenting is. I get
nowhere with him on ''temperament'' issues. I am stressed out,
because I not only have to deal with the tantrums, but at the
same time, have to be an advocate for the kids with my husband,
who I thought would be a supportive parent. Are tantrums
abnormal? I think not.
Need a friend
We loved the book ''Tears and Tantrums'' by Dr. Aletha Solter. We had always felt
that it was right to help a child ride out his or her tantrum rather that divert their
attention, and this book shows all of the clinical research to back that up. If your
husband would be willing to read it, it might help him understand that tantrums are
just a part of parrenting, and it might help him approach them (and you) more
compassionately. Also, she does phone consultations for $60 if, after you have read
the book, you have specific questions about your own situation. It has totaly
changed our relationship with our active and emotional two and a half year old fot
the better. She is a lot mor emotionally secure now and, as a result, has fewer
tantrums. Hope this helps, and good luck.
You are not alone, my husband acted the very same way. Talking
to my friends that were having babies at that time, they were
going through the same thing. I think it has to do with him not
having as much patience as you have. Tell him if he can't
handle the noise, tantrum, etc. then he needs to go somewhere
else for a little while because you can't take care of two
babies. I know that sounds harsh but I have been there and it's
extremely difficult when the adult is acting like the kid.
Boy, oh boy! Have I felt the same way about the tantrums!
I have one daughter, age 3, who has her end of day tantrum,
too. As i'm sure most kids do.
My feeling about this in regards to husbands who react
similarly is that because you manage the home it's your duty
to manage the emotions as well. Managing the kids
emotions (an not to mention EVERYTHING else) is quite a
task...and can be very draining. But, to have your husband
act like he's one of the kids, too is just ridiculous and
chiildish! Why not mention to him the his 'attitude' does not
remedy an already stressful situation and try letting him
know that the next time he tells you that you're a bad parent
you're going to take a 2 hour walk and the rest of the evening
is up to him. Turn the mirror...I do, and it works. It REALLY
Once they're faced with the decision of catering to the kid's
needs and helping them cope with the wind down of the day
without harming them or verbally challenging or degrading
them...then maybe he'll understand that you have a method
that works well because, well, he's not there often enough to
take into account that you have methods for everything.
Maybe he needs to stand back and take some tips from you
What else would help is if you took shifts. M, W, F for you
and T, Th for him. Then on the weekends you work together.
Come up with a pattern that works for the both of you,
engage the kids in this new regime and see what sparks.
It's fair, you're still in charge and he gets to have a hand in
the difficulty of child rearing. Also, if he chooses the crap out
method of having a tantrum himself make a 'Tantrum Jar'.
He can contribute $5 every time he melts down and that
money can go towrads you next manicure or movie of coffee!
I'd like to suggest two books that have been very
helpful. ''Magic 1-2-3'' and ''Siblings without Rivalry''. Both are
very easy reads but great ideas about how to handle tantrums and
other challenging behaviors. Good luck.
your husband is acting like a jerk. of course saying that to
him probably will not help the situation. maybe you could
convince him to try it from your end for a day or two, you
know, have him stay home from work one day and you go out (as
if you were working). maybe if he experiences it firsthand
he'll gain a better understanding of how things really are. and
no, tantrums are by no means abnormal.
husband who tries to see it from mom's perspective
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